Citation and Team Projects

Team projects bring with them their own set of challenges and difficulties. Dividing up work, coordinating effort and ensuring that everyone gets along, at least within reason, are just some of the issues encountered on team projects not seen on solo projects.

However, team projects also raise questions about citation including, if, when and how to cite other team members’ work. Fortunately, the issue is largely straightforward, at least in most cases.

Generally, the rule with team projects is that you do not have to cite the work of your teammates. The reason for this is they are already attributed by having their name on the work.

Take, for example, an essay written by a single student. The student doesn’t have to cite all of their words because the words are assumed to be theirs because it carries their name.

Take that example and make it an essay written by two students and, similarly, they wouldn’t be expected to cite each other’s work because both of their names are on the paper. Even if one did all of the writing and the other did all of the research, it’s assumed that they both made contributions to the project and deserve half of the credit.

Similarly, there’s usually no expectation of similar attribution in a group project because, ideally, everyone contributed nearly equally to the project and deserve an equal share of the credit. Their names being on the project is, ultimately, attribution enough.

If one or more team members didn’t pull their weight on the project, then that is a matter that needs to be taken up with the instructor directly. Going through and citing everyone’s contribution is an inefficient and clunky way to address that kind of issue.

The exception to the rule is when the teacher requests everyone’s contribution be cited. They might do this for any number of reasons including making it easy to grant individual grades on a group project. But regardless of the reason, if they do request such citation, it’s important to provide it.

However, if the instructor requests it, they will also tell you how they want it. Whether it’s some form of inline notation or an attached page highlighting everyone’s contributions.

As with all things related to citation, it’s important to follow your teacher’s instructions first and common practice second. At the end of the day, it’s your teacher who runs the classroom and determines your grade. As such, it’s wise to follow their requests even when it conflicts with what you’ve seen or heard elsewhere.