Skip to Main Content

Referencing & Avoiding Plagiarism

What's Referencing?

Reference Management

Reasons to Reference

  • Helps you avoid plagiarism by making clear which ideas are yours and which belong to someone else. 
  • Shows you understand the topic or research area.
  • Gives evidence of what you are saying in your writing.
  • Allows others to see what sources you used.

Joining the Scholarly Conversation


Referencing is sometimes called Joining the Scholarly Conversation

Just like joining a regular conversation, you need to take note of who is speaking and what is being said before you can take part. 

Referencing can be challenging, but it a hugely important and valuable skill to learn. If you develop good practices, referencing will start to come easier to you. 

What is Referencing?

Referencing acknowledges the books, articles, websites, and any other material used in the writing of a paper, essay or thesis.

A Referencing Style is a set of rules telling you how to do this in a particular way. There are a variety of different styles. It is important to acknowledge the source of your ideas to avoid plagiarism. Anything that is not common knowledge must be cited.

Citing or referring to sources in a document can be done in two ways: In-Text Citations (Author-Date in the text) or Footnotes (number in the text and further details at the bottom of the page) . The Citation refers the reader  to the full details of the source in your Bibliography or Reference List. The Bibliography is a list of all sources consulted in preparing the document, and the Reference List is those works specifically cited in the document.

Referencing is a crucial part of successful academic writing and is key to your assignments and research.


5 Steps to Successful Referencing

  1. Find references and sources that help you make your case.
  2. Save all your references in one place or folder.
  3. Bring references into your essay in the way described in the box References & Your Essay.
  4. Know what Referencing Style you have to use and format your references in that style.
  5. Check all your references against examples in your course handbook before you submit your essay.

References and Your Essay

There are two main ways to use references.

  1. You can make an argument and bring in references to support that argument. 
  2. Bring references into your essay and then offer an analysis of them.

References should not be passed off as your own work. That's plagiarism. Here are some tips on avoiding it.