Citing references in your work and plagiarism

  • What is citing or referencing?

    These words have almost the same meaning, which is to give details of where you found your information for an essay or assignment, whether from a book, journal article, web page, lecture, or any other source. 

    Why is it important? 

    • It is accepted practice in the academic world to acknowledge the words, ideas or work of others and not simply to use them as if they were your own.   Failure to do this could be regarded as plagiarism
    • to enable other people to identify and trace your sources quickly and easily
    • to support facts and claims you have made in your text
    • to show that you have read widely and use a variety of sources

    What about commonly known facts?

    It is not necessary to reference information (dates, facts etc) which is commonly known in a particular subject area (e.g. Battle of Hastings took place in 1066). This is called common knowledge. Sometimes it is difficult to decide if a fact is common knowledge and it might be helpful to check with a member of academic staff.  Please also see the guidance on Cite them right online (select Basics and then What is common knowledge?)

    What is the first step in referencing?

    As you find and use information from books, journals, web sites etc for your assignment, make sure you note down details about each source.  Look for an author (might be an organisation), title, date, edition, place of publication and publisher;  for journal articles, book chapters and quotations you will also need page numbers; for online resources you will additionally need the url or doi and  the date on which you accessed the information

    Which referencing style should I use?

    Check with your Department or School which referencing style is required, and also if it provides its own guidelines to that style.

    Many Departments/Schools at Brookes use the Harvard system - for detailed help use: 

    Some Departments/Schools use a different style, such as MHRA or OSCOLA.  Detailed guidance can be found on the relevant Subject Help page

    Reference management software

    You may wish to consider using a reference management software system as a method of storing reference details and creating citations in your work.  Oxford Brookes University supports EndNote, which enables you to format references in various styles including ‘BrookesHarvard’  (matching the Library guide and Cite them right online)

    What is plagiarism? 

    Plagiarism is presenting or submitting someone else's work (words or ideas), intentionally or unintentionally, as your own. This is considered to be a form of cheating and may be subject to disciplinary action, so it is essential to recognise and avoid it. Find out more about plagiarism.

    Help with referencing

    Library staff are always ready to help you with referencing – please visit the Library Help Zone, JHB Level 1 (Library Enquiry Desks at other Brookes libraries) or Contact Us by phone, email or chat.