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Referencing: Hom1

This guide provides resources to support your citation and referencing practice in line with academic requirements


PAGE UNDER CONSTRUCTION - information provided is not necessarily accurate

This page provides a quick introduction to referencing to those who are new to the practice.

For comprehensive guidance on the most commonly used referencing styles, use Cite Them Right

Bloomsbury Cite them right - a student's must-have online referencing tool

Referencing basics

What is referencing?
Referencing is a standardised system of referring to sources of information or knowledge in your assessed work.  It comprises a marker in the text, which refers the reader to either a list of references (Harvard approach) or footnotes/endnotes (running notes approach).

Why reference?
Referencing is a key part of academic writing, and one of the things that distinguishes academic writing from most other types of writing.

There are three key reasons that we ask for references:

  1. Shows the reader the research undertaken to create a piece of writing
  2. Gives the reader the information to find the sources used
  3. Makes it clear which ideas are the author's and which were sourced from research, so that the work can be assessed appropriately

Referencing and avoiding plagiarism
Your lecturers want to see that you have engaged with good quality relevant sources. However, if you rely on sources without referencing them, this might be regarded as plagiarising, and you could lose marks, or face other sanctions. 

Small amounts of plagiarism (up to 10%) should not result in you automatically failing an assignment, but you may lose marks and receive a warning.

How many references do I need?
The number of references you use depends on so many factors, its not possible to say how many you should aim for.  For a two thousand word essay it could be five or maybe less or it could be more than twenty.  Rather than focus on the number, focus on finding good quality sources that help you address the question posed in your assignment.

Key advice

  • When you are doing research make sure you take a note of what sources you are using, and where the information or quotations have come from, and make sure you reference them. 
  • Don't rely too heavily on quotation. 
  • Make sure your are consistent in how you reference, and allow enough time to check the formatting. 
  • Use 'cite them right' for advice on the unusual sources.
  • Learn by example. Take note of how academic sources use sources; this can often provide a good model for your own writing.

When do I need to reference?

Summarising / paraphrasing
Even if you are putting something you have read in your own words, you still need to provide a reference.  If you are referring to a specific section you should include page numbers.  For summarising or paraphrasing a source, you must ensure that you are genuinely using your own words and structure.

For a quotation, you must put the words you have quoted in quotation marks (“....”), and provide a page number or page range.  Double or single quotation marks can be used, as long as you are consistent. 

For quotations of more than three lines, instead of quotation marks, you could indent the text and use single-line spacing:

I found that I was fitted for nothing so well as for the study of Truth; as having a mind nimble and versatile enough to catch the resemblances of things (which is the chief point), and at the same time steady enough to fix and distinguish their subtler differences; as being gifted by nature with desire to seek, patience to doubt, fondness to meditate, slowness to assert, readiness to consider, carefulness to dispose and set in order; and as being a man that neither affects what is new nor admires what is old, and that hates every kind of imposture.

TIP: Try to avoid using too much direct quotation. Use quotations when it's important to use the original words, rather than to avoid having to put things in your own words to save time.  As a very rough guide, in a two thousand word essay, you would normally expect there to be fewer than 100 words of direct quotation (i.e. less than 5%).

Do I have to reference everything?
'Cite them right' provides examples of references for many types of source, including graffiti, body art, and circus performances. There are times when you should provide a reference for this sort of thing.  However, it may be appropriate to write about things without formally referencing them, and you should use some judgement about whether a formal reference is appropriate.   

Common knowledge
You do not need to reference things that are common knowledge. To give an example: that Tony Blair was UK Prime Minister from 1997 to 2007 does not need a reference.

Opinions on what is common knowledge can differ from one person to another and the context, so you need to exercise some judgement as to what is appropriate.