Referencing

  • Referencing is an important way of acknowledging the work of other people and giving your work authority by showing where you got your evidence from. It enables other people to trace your sources and also shows your work was created with academic integrity. Failing to reference will be seen as plagiarism. 

    Our top tips

    Why reference?

    Referencing is not just a set of rules designed to make your life harder; it’s an important part of using knowledge in a fair and responsible way. See this guide from the Library for more information: 

    What is referencing?

    Referencing styles usually have two parts:

    1. a short reference in the body of your writing, often called an in-text citation; and
    2. a full reference in the reference list at the end of your assignment.

    See this video for more on what referencing involves: 

    Referencing style for your subject

    Always check with your department what style they want you to use. See your Subject Help page for more on the style used in your subject.

    Follow a guide, be consistent

    A good principle for all referencing is to be consistent. It makes your referencing look more professional and meticulous. Don’t mix and match styles or change formatting for some references but not for others. Log in to Brookes’ Cite Them Right Online for guidance. 

    Be sceptical about reference generators

    You may use an automatic reference generator such as Cite This For Me, but they only work with the details you give them, so they can sometimes produce odd-looking references. Know the basic format for the main sources: Book, journal article, chapter in an edited book, and webpage and always check your automatically generated references against this.

    Reference management software

    If you find it hard to keep track of your references or if you’re working on a longer dissertation or thesis, consider using reference management software like Endnote. The Library provides support and training for Endnote, but there are also other online versions like Mendeley and Zotero:

    Referencing unusual sources

    There are four basic pieces of information needed to reference any source: Author, date, title, and publication details. The publication details vary the most depending on the source. A good guide like Cite Them Right Online will have formatting for all types of sources.

    Good note-making

    Always note down the full details for any source you consult and keep track of what are your ideas and what are the ideas from the sources. Compile your reference list as you go along to avoid last minute panics. See our page on note-making for more strategies: