Site: learnonline
Course: Referencing
Book: Referencing
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Date: Wednesday, 28 September 2022, 8:00 PM


What is referencing?

What is referencing?

When you write assignments you must provide evidence and information to support your claims. That evidence will come from other sources, and can be presented by

  • directly quoting your source
  • paraphrasing your source
  • summarising your source
  • reproducing a diagram, image or artwork from your source

You must also make it very clear when you are presenting information and ideas from other sources. This is where referencing comes in. Each source you quote, paraphrase, summarise, or reproduce content from must be identified through referencing.

Referencing is a key academic skill. It helps you support your academic work by demonstrating that you've read widely and thus achieved command of the subject matter. Even if you do not directly address or describe the content of a source, you can still cite it to demonstrate you have read the material. For example:


Why reference?

Referencing is important for a number of reasons. Among other things, it

  • acknowledges the intellectual property of others
  • demonstrates your wide reading and breadth of knowledge
  • provides evidence and information to support your claims
  • adds credibility and substance to your work
  • connects your work to the larger academic landscape
  • demonstrates information literacy, i.e. your ability to locate, evaluate, manage and use information
  • indicates to readers where they can locate the resources you've used
  • helps you to avoid academic misconduct

In-text references and reference lists

There are two components to referencing:

  • references that appear in the body of your assignment - as bracketed in-text references, footnotes, or endnotes - alongside the information being referenced
  • a reference list or bibliography at the end of the assignment containing full bibliographic details for all the sources referenced in the assignment

You must provide a reference every time you refer to another source or its ideas (that is, any time you paraphrase, summarise, quote or reproduce information from elsewhere).


If a reference appears in your assignment body, a corresponding entry containing full bibliographic details must appear in your reference list.


Different referencing styles

Many referencing styles exist, and different disciplines employ different styles. Each style has its own rules about how information is arranged and presented; some differences are minor, while others are much bigger.

Because there are so many different styles, it's important you stick closely to the particular one assigned in each of your courses. Find out which referencing style you need to use at the start of each new course, and follow the appropriate guidelines for all assignments in that course.

Information about some of these styles, including Harvard, can be found elsewhere on this website.

Three rules to remember

You will succeed in referencing at university if you always follow these three important rules:

  • Always include a reference when you include someone else's ideas or information in your work
  • Always include a reference when you paraphrase, summarise, quote, or copy material from other sources
  • Whenever you reference a source in your assignment, ensure the source is also included in your reference list