Reference and avoid plagiarism

Search the Library

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

Get help

Library staff are always ready to help you with referencing. Visit the Library Help Zone, JHB Level 1 (Library Enquiry Desks at other Brookes libraries).

Useful links