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Advice for indicating sources in tables


I'm writing a thesis about the Accords by the Basel Committee on Banking Supervision (BCBS).

If I put a table exactly from the Accords, I write in the table note "Source: BCBS (year)".

If I start from a table of the source but add something mine, I write in the table note that I started from BCBS (year) and I added something.

But if I take a table from the source and only change the order of the rows, to group the elements in a different way, or if I merge two tables from the source into one, without modifying the elements, should I write "Source: based on BCBS (year)" or is "Source: BCBS (year)" enough?

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A core principle with citation is: if you say it's from source X, it must be exactly what's in source X. Not a summary. Not a translation. Not a refactoring. By citing a source you are invoking that source's authority, in a sense; by adapting a work but citing it without noting the adaptation, you're in effect putting words in the source's mouth. So don't do that. Do cite the source, but indicate that you have adapted the content, even if you think it doesn't matter (like just reordering items in a table).

The APA provides some guidelines for citing and adapting tables and figures. The key point is to add "adapted from" to your citation. For example, in a table caption you would add:

Adapted [or Reprinted] from “Title of Article,” by F. M. Author and C. D. Author, year, Title of Journal, volume, p. xx. Copyright year by the Name of Copyright Holder. Adapted with permission.

(If you didn't ask their permission, you'd drop that last part.)

APA style doesn't require you to describe the adaptation; your use of "adapted from" gives the reader who wants to audit your work the clue to compare your work and the source. You don't have to also deliver the diff.

APA is one common style guide. Others might have different conventions for how to indicate the adaptation, but indicating it somehow is likely to be universal for reputable institutions like your university.

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