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Referencing & Citation Styles

What is referencing and citation?

Referencing is a consistent method of acknowledging another person's ideas which you have used in your own writing. You must reference all sources that you use in your work, including words and ideas, facts, images, videos, audio, websites, statistics, diagrams and data.

There are many acceptable forms of referencing. Subject areas, units and publications specify the appropriate referencing style. Check your unit guide or check with your supervisor for information on which style is required.

Each referencing style has unique formats for constructing in-text citations and reference lists.

Citing is the process of including details of your sources within the text of your assignment. This is also known as in-text citation.

Example of an in-text citation (Harvard Style)

Thinking critically (Cottrell, 2005) is a key skill to develop at University. It involves acquiring the skill to be able to read academic information and arguments while assessing their validity (Cottrell, 2003). When thinking critically a person needs to identify the main argument of a piece, the evidence the argument is based on, and identify any assumptions that have been made in making the argument (Moore, 2010). Understanding bias and being able to weigh the evidence presented is an essential element to critical thinking (McMillan and Weyers, 2013).

Referencing is the process of acknowledging in detail all the information sources (books, journal articles, images, data, webpages etc.) that you have used in completing an assignment. References form a list with full details of sources placed at the end of an assignment or paper.

Example of a reference list (Harvard Style):

Cottrell, S. (2003) The study skills handbook. Palgrave study guides 2nd edn. Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan.

Cottrell, S. (2005) Critical thinking skills : developing effective analysis and argument. Palgrave study guides Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan.

McMillan, K. and Weyers, J. D. B. (2013) How to cite, reference & avoid plagiarism at university Harlow: Pearson.

Moore, S. (2010) The ultimate study skills handbook. Maidenhead: McGraw-Hill/Open University Press.


Why do we need to reference and cite?

References and Citations are required in Academic Writing to

  • respect and acknowledge the thoughts, ideas and creations from other people's work
  • give credibility to the arguments and conclusions in an assignment
  • provide evidence for the ideas and arguments made in an assignment
  • avoid plagiarising or representing another person's work as your own
  • let others trace the sources and materials used to create your work*

*IMPORTANT NOTE: By including a reference list with information such as Book Title, Publisher, Publication Date, Journal Title, Website address etc., you are allowing your readers examine the evidence used in your assignment and read more about the topic.

How to use this guide

Getting Started: How to use this guide

This LibGuide was designed to provide you with assistance in citing your sources when writing an academic paper.

There are different styles which format the information differently. In each tab, you will find descriptions of each citation style featured in this guide along with links to online resources for citing and a few examples.

What is a citation and citation style?

citation is a way of giving credit to individuals for their creative and intellectual works that you utilized to support your research. It can also be used to locate particular sources and combat plagiarism. Typically, a citation can include the author's name, date, location of the publishing company, journal title, or DOI (Digital Object Identifier).

citation style dictates the information necessary for a citation and how the information is ordered, as well as punctuation and other formatting.

How to do I choose a citation style?

There are many different ways of citing resources from your research. The citation style sometimes depends on the academic discipline involved. For example:

  • APA (American Psychological Association) is used by Education, Psychology, and Sciences
  • MLA (Modern Language Association) style is used by the Humanities
  • Chicago/Turabian style is generally used by Business, History, and the Fine Arts

*You will need to consult with your professor to determine what is required in your specific course.