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Referencing explained

Why and when to reference

Referencing is an important part of academic work. It puts your work in context, demonstrates the breadth and depth of your research, and acknowledges other people’s work. You should reference whenever you use someone else’s idea.

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These webpages explain what referencing is, why it is important and give an overview of the main elements of how to reference. Our Referencing made simple tutorial opens in a new window and covers how to identify your source and create a reference with interactive examples.

Why reference?

Referencing correctly:

  • helps you to avoid plagiarism by making it clear which ideas are your own and which are someone else’s
  • shows your understanding of the topic
  • gives supporting evidence for your ideas, arguments and opinions
  • allows others to identify the sources you have used.

When to reference

Whenever you use an idea from someone else's work, for example from a journal article, textbook or website, you should cite the original author to make it clear where that idea came from. This is the case regardless of whether you have paraphrased, summarised or directly quoted their work. This is a key part of good practice in academic writing.

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University and school policies

The University referencing policy (PDF) sets out the referencing requirements that all taught students and tutors are expected to follow.

Each school in the University requires students to use a specific style of referencing. Check the referencing style used in your school before you begin.

All your citations and references should match the style you are using exactly, including any punctuation, capitalisation, italics and bold, and you should use the same referencing style throughout your assignment.