Referencing quick guide


Plagiarism is the taking of another’s ideas and passing them off as your own.  This means that if you copy an idea, argument or phrase and do not include the reference next to it, then it will be assumed that it is all your own work.  This is unacceptable in academic work and if caught you may be removed from the course.

Tthere is an expectation that you will undertake research and reference accordingly. Failure to do so can lead to a "refer" grade.


How to refer in your work without plagiarising: Citation in the text

A.  Reporting using paraphrase

The purpose of an essay, or report, is to convey your understanding of the subject matter and associated academic ideas and theories.  To use the ideas of others it is generally necessary to paraphrase.

  • Use your own words to summarise the main points, ideas or findings from your source
  • Include the reference to the source by giving the author's surname and the date of publication

For example:

If the name occurs naturally in the sentence, the year is given in parentheses:

Rayner (1986) describes the stages of development in the human life-cycle.


Or if the name does not occur naturally in the sentence, both the name and date are given in parentheses:

An individual's life can be seen to develop through particular stages (Rayner, 1986), these are....


 If there is more than one author give all the surnames at the first mention  e.g. (Barker, Pistrang & Elliott, 1994).  On subsequent mentions if there are more than two authors, use just the first author and add "et al."   e.g. (Barker et al., 1994).  

[“et al.” means “and others”.  NB there is a full stop after al. (as it is abbreviated from ‘alii’ or ‘alia’) but not after et which is a complete word.]


B.  Direct Quotation

In some subjects it may be appropriate, or necessary, to use direct quotations.

A quotation is the use of the exact words of a writer.

  • To be used when the author expresses an idea in such a way that you cannot improve upon it, e.g. a particularly apt phrase or a graphic description.
  • Keep it as brief as possible.
  • Include the author, date and page number in your text.
  • Add the full reference to your bibliography 


For a short quotation of 1 or 2 lines

  • Include it in your sentence.
  • Use single quotation marks.

 For example:

Northedge suggests that students are most easily distracted when they do not understand an aspect of their work and find themselves 'drifting in a sea of meaninglessness'.  (Northedge, 1990, p.10)

For a long quotation consisting of at least one sentence:

  • Begin on a new line
  • Indent for whole quotation
  • Use exact wording and punctuation
  • Do not use quotation marks (except where used by the original author)
  • Use single spacing
  • Use three dots if you omit some of the original words
  • Use square brackets if you insert words of your own

For example:

Northedge argues that,

Distractions offer you the chance to focus your attention on familiar and meaningful parts of your life and so escape from the uncertainties which studying often brings. … That is why it is so important to define clear-cut tasks [and goals] for yourself to create a shape and meaning for your work.          

(Northedge, 1990, p. 10)


C. Further Referencing Conventions

a)   When an author has published more than one cited document in the same year, these are distinguished by adding lower case letters (a,b,c,etc.) after the year and within the parentheses e.g: Johnson (1994a p. 31) discussed the subject

 b)   If the work is anonymous then ‘Anon’ should be used e.g:

In a recent article (Anon, 1998, p.269) it was stated…

 c)   If it is a reference to a newspaper article with no author, the name of the paper can be used in place of ‘Anon’ e.g.:

More people than ever seem to be using retail home delivery (The Times, 1996, p.3)

 d)  If you refer to a source quoted in another source you cite both in the text e.g:

A study by Smith (1960 cited Jones,1994, p.24) showed that…

Last modified: Thursday, 14 February 2013, 7:45 AM