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Referencing and plagiarism

What is referencing?

In your academic work, when you include information from a source, for example a book, journal article, website, etc. you are required to acknowledge it so the reader can clearly distinguish between your own work and others. This is called referencing or citing.

There are many reasons why you should reference at university:

  • Identifying the sources of information that you have read can prevent any accusations of plagiarism (which is an academic offence)
  • Shows your understanding of a topic by demonstrating the depth and breadth of your research
  • It is a courtesy to the person whose ideas you have referred to
  • Provides all the information the reader needs to be able to locate and verify the sources you have read.

You should provide a reference whenever you use an idea or information from a source, e.g., book, journal article or website. You need to cite the original author to make it clear where that idea came from. This is required when you have directly quoted, paraphrased or summarised

There are lots of different referencing styles so it is important that you find out which one your school uses.  To help with understanding referencing styles the library has produced six referencing handbooks. Select your school's style from the options below.

When writing at university you will need to find and evaluate a variety of primary and secondary sources. You should identify who has produced the information you are considering using – it is important to refer to information from credible sources. A credible source should be free from bias and supported with evidence. It should be written and/or published by a reputable author or organisation.

It is important to evaluate the credibility of any source before including it in your work. The CRAAP test is a popular method to evaluate the sources you are considering:

  • Currency: is the source up to date?
  • Relevance: is the source relevant to your research?
  • Authority: Who is the author? What authority do they possess and where is the source published?
  • Accuracy: is the source supported by evidence? Is the evidence cited correctly?
  • Purpose: what was the motive behind publishing the source?


There are generally two parts to referencing. The first is identifying in the body of your written work, any information, ideas, views you have read about in primary and secondary sources. This information tends to be minimal, just enough to link it to the full reference, and is called a citation. The second is a complete list of the full references, which goes at the end of your work.

Your Academic Subject Librarian can provide support and guidance with referencing and advice on avoiding plagiarism. In addition to this, there is lots of support material available.

Click on the relevant referencing style below to find out more.

republishing permissions


We are happy for external education institutions to link to our referencing materials.  If you do, please email the library to request permission, and so that we know who is using our materials.