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Referencing Indigenous sources

Deakin University is currently developing a guide to referencing Indigenous sources.

We aim to establish a robust and broad consensus on how Indigenous materials, authors, and content should be attributed in scholarly work by the Deakin community. The advice will provide guidance on citing sources in a way that respects copyright while recognising Indigenous knowledge ownership.

As we work towards consolidating our referencing advice, please continue to consult Deakin’s Guide to Referencing. As you research and reference, consider the following recommendations drawn from the Indigenous referencing guidance for Indigenous knowledges (Faulkhead et al., 2023).

Using Indigenous information

Referencing and citation protocols are an established requirement of academic work. However, it is also important to critically evaluate the sources that you use. When referencing Indigenous content or authors, you will need to make decisions about the quality of the material and who should be credited as the most appropriate author.

Content involving Indigenous knowledge

Does the source highlight Indigenous voices?

  • Always try to include Indigenous sources on Indigenous content.
  • Sometimes Indigenous voices may appear in non-Indigenous authored publications. Consider how this is positioned.
  • Does the source centre Indigenous ways of being, doing and knowing?

Has appropriate consent been sought and provided?

  • Check the Methods and Acknowledgement sections. Are Indigenous participants listed as co-authors, research partners, or otherwise acknowledged as giving free, prior, and informed consent to the research? Information from these sources is likely to be more credible.

Does the source use appropriate terminology?

  • Consider your reasons for using particular sources. Can you rely on material that includes outdated or racist terminology?
  • Be aware that terminology is subject to change. Ensure you do not reproduce hurtful language in your own work. Do this by paraphrasing with an awareness of current standards.
  • If you must use problematic material, it is good critical practice to note that the material is problematic. You should also discuss why you  made the decision to include it in your research.

When was the source created?

  • Is your source contemporary? Legacy publications may present outdated world views and are more likely to be the work of non-indigenous authors.


What is the author’s relationship to Indigenous knowledges?

  • Indigenous cultures and identities are not homogenous. Think about what gives someone the authority to discuss Culture and experiences.
  • Does the author identify as a member of the Nation/Country/Language Group under discussion?
  • Has knowledge of the topic been provided by those who are connected to the Nation/Country/Language Group?

Has the contribution of Indigenous participants or authors been clearly acknowledged?

  • Consider what material the author has used to build their perspective.
  • Before reading the text, check: the Reference List, the Acknowledgments, and skim the main text, especially the Methods.
  • If you have concerns about authorship but still wish to include them, it is good critical practice to note those concerns in your writing. You should discuss the impact the authorship may have had on your research.

Note: Referencing conventions can change as the needs and understandings of society develop, therefore feedback is appreciated. Guidance from First Nations communities is welcomed, particularly from the lands of Wadawurrung Country, Eastern Maar Country and Wurundjeri Country on which the Deakin campuses are located. If you would like to send any comments regarding this guide, please email ask-study-support@deakin.edu.au


Faulkhead, S., Thorpe, K., Sentance, N., Booker, L., & Barrowcliffe, R. R. (2023). Indigenous referencing guidance for Indigenous knowledges. Indigenous Archives Collective and the UTS Jumbunna Institute of Indigenous Education and Research. https://indigenousarchives.net/2023/07/12/indigenous-referencing-guidance-for-indigenous-knowledges-launched-by-caval/

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