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Referencing Basics

  • Referencing is the method of acknowledging the sources you have used while writing your assignment. It is an extremely important part of academic writing as it shows where your ideas have come from and gives credit to the authors whose work you have read.
  • By referencing properly you can avoid plagiarism, which is the passing off of other people's ideas as your own.

LinkedIn Learning video on referencing.

A reference also known as a citation - is an exact note of the source of a piece of information that you have referred to either directly or indirectly in your text. A typical reference or citation would include the following elements:

  • journal article - author / year of publication / title of the article / journal title /  volume, part, page nos.      
  • book - author/editor / year of publication / title / place of publication / publisher.

Online sources also need to include the URL and the date accessed

References need to be cited in two places –

  •  in an abbreviated form in the text  - in-text citation
  •  in full at the end of your work - reference list

A bibliography is a list of all the sources you have consulted but not necessarily referred to in your work.

There are many different referencing styles.

The most commonly used ones are: Harvard, APA, MHRA, Vancouver, Chicago.

For full guidance on how to reference your work, however, you should refer to the referencing guidelines and examples recommended for your course in your Student Handbook as different schools use different referencing styles.

What is Plagiarism?

Plagiarism is passing off someone else's ideas or words as your own and is a serious offence in the academic world, even if done unintentionally.

Avoid being accused of plagiarism by making sure you reference everything you use that is not your own - whether words, images, photographs, music, maps, webpages, research or surveys on the web, letters and emails, etc.

  • Paraphrase, but not too closely.
  • Use reporting words: e.g. found, explains, shows, warns, states, claims, suggested, etc.
  • Use quotation marks " " when citing exact words, and indent them as a separate paragraph, to show they are quoted.
  • Write down your sources as you find them, and add appropriate citations and references. 

Cite Them Right is a comprehensive online guide on how to reference. It includes simplified advice on how to cite a huge range of materials from ancient texts to Twitter, and guidance on plagiarism and how to avoid it!

Examples are given in Harvard, APA, MHRA, MLA, OSCOLA, Chicago and Vancouver referencing styles

Remember that your school will provide you with a referencing guide. You must check that your bibliography and citations match your school's guide. If you are using this resource you may need to edit your references accordingly.

Access Cite them Right »

Zoterobib is a quick and easy way to create a reference list. It is free and requires no account creation. It contains over 9,000+ referencing styles including Harvard Cite them Right and Vancouver.

Remember that your school will provide you with a referencing guide. If you are using Zoterobib or any other referencing software you must check that your bibliography and citations match your school's guide. You may need to edit your references accordingly.

Access Zoterobib »