Citation and Referencing

The nature of academic writing shows what you have read and learnt from research studies that have been written up in your discipline and also shows that you can use what you have read and understood to support your own ideas and arguments. You make use of what others have written by referring to these authors through direct or indirect quotation.

All the authors that you mention in your essay, as well as those you have read but not specifically cited, must appear in your bibliographical/reference list at the end of your paper. There are several reasons for this:

  • your tutor can see what you have read, and will want to see recommended texts, as well as state of the art (up to date) journal articles.
  • your tutor might want to check on any citation and will need the reference to locate it
  • it is standard, accepted academic practice to display your sources according to the referencing style/convention used in your discipline

There is a difference between a reference list and a bibliography at the end of your work; however, some departments do not distinguish between them and allow a combined list. You should check the preferred method with your tutor.

A reference list is a description of all citations occurring in your essay.

A bibliography is a list of other relevant work that you have referred to but not cited.

Whenever you read about citation and referencing, you will also read about plagiarism.

Plagiarism (using someone else’s work in your writing without crediting the source) can be intentional or unintentional. Which ever way it occurs, it is very serious indeed. It is your responsibility to avoid plagiarism. If in doubt, cite the source. This means: acknowledge the original author.

Plagiarism occurs in several forms and degrees, as follows:

  • Using published ideas as one's own.
  • Representing text or images from books, journals or papers published on the web as one's own work.
  • Copying the work of another student or another person and presenting it as one's own.
  • Collaborating inappropriately with another student when the assignment requires individual work.
  • Resubmitting substantive excerpts of your own work from other assignments as a new piece of work.

Students often find paraphrasing/quoting indirectly difficult and this is most probably because the ‘best’ words have already been used by the original writer. What you must avoid at all costs is the temptation to change just a few words of what you want to paraphrase, or just change the order of the same words. Even if you acknowledge the source of the writing after doing this, you will have plagiarised, and this will have very severe consequences for your marks.