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Why reference?

  • To show you have researched and read widely

  • An idea or argument is backed up by evidence

  • Gives credit to the original author/s

  • Allows your lecturer to track down the sources you have used

  • Avoids plagiarism

Alistair Kwan suggests also:

  • to defer to, and hence endorse or accept, another author’s definition or argument

  • to indicate further reading for readers interested in more

  • to associate yourself with, or distinguish yourself from, a clique or even the mainstream  i.e. disciplinary identity-crafting

  • to critique other work...(See more reasons at Citation: what you might cite for and how you might show critical analysis)

When to reference

Every time you refer to someone else's ideas or writing you must reference this in your academic work.

For example:

  • Quotations - ‘word for word' copies of a written source.
  • Diagramsgraphs, charts, images - any representation that you copy from another source.  
  • Paraphrasing - when you rewrite all or part of another person's ideas in your own words.
  • Summary - when you summarise another person's ideas or research.
  • Facts - when you repeat or rewrite other researcher's findings, data or information.
  • Revisions - when you re-work or modify any part of someone else's research/ideas/images,
    while maintaining the key idea or design.

Reference to the work of others needs to have a purpose.

  • Use authoritative and appropriate sources.
  • Learn to critically evaluate an information source (eg article, website, blog) before you decide to make reference to it.
  • Be selective.

Quality and purposeful references rather than quantity is key.

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