Referencing and citing your sources correctly

  • Whenever you write an essay, report or dissertation, or produce any other kind of written work eg a poster, if you refer to work or research that somebody else has carried out, you must include details of where this original work can be found. This is known as referencing or "citing your sources".

    In the School of Life Sciences a referencing system called the Harvard System is most commonly used. The Library produces a guide on how this works.

    If your Module Leader requires you to use a different referencing system you should be made aware of this.

    Failure to reference correctly may be interpreted as deliberately trying to pass off someone else's work as your own. This is known as plagiarism. The Library has an information page explaining more about plagiarism and how to avoid it. An online tutorial, called PLATO, to help you understand and avoid plagiarism is also available on Brookes Virtual.

    Software to help you record your references and create bibliographies in the format of a particular referencing system is available. The University recommends EndNote. The full version of this can be used on campus, you can buy it for use on your own pc, or a free slightly reduced web version is also available. We recommend that you start with the EndNote Web version. See our EndNote Web pages for more information.

    Other free referencing packages are also available, eg:

    It doesn't matter which system you use but the important thing is that:

    • you record details of all the documents you have consulted (paper and electronic), so that you can find them again;
    • you give the details of any documents you refer to in your essays etc and include these details in you bibliography;
    • you use a recognised style and are consistent in the way you do this.

    More help and advice about referencing is available from the science librarians, from the Library Help Zone, or from your academic adviser or supervisor.