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Referencing without tears: why, when and how to cite. Dr Emma Coonan, Research Skills Librarian. Referencing: boring but important. © evaxebra Why do it at all?. Ensuring that your readers can distinguish between your own and others’ thinking means that you:

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referencing without tears why when and how to cite

Referencing without tears: why, when and how to cite

Dr Emma Coonan, Research Skills Librarian

referencing boring but important
Referencing: boring but important

© evaxebra

why do it at all
Why do it at all?

Ensuring that your readers can distinguish between your own and others’ thinking means that you:

  • Givecredit for the work you have built on in your arguments
  • Getcredit for the work you have done yourself
when to do it
When to do it

You must cite your source …

  • When you quote from someone’s work
  • When you paraphrase someone’s work
  • When you use or refer to published data
  • When you follow someone’s research method
  • When you use any idea from someone’s work

(Turabian, 2007)

a reference consists of
A reference consists of …
  • In-text citation: a short ‘pointer’ to the full entry


  • Full entry in a bibliography or reference list. This entry should contain all the details necessary for a reader to follow up your sources.

You must give both parts of the reference to avoid the charge of plagiarism!

in text citations
In-text citations
  • Some styles use parenthetical citations

“In a recent study of parenthetical citation practice (Walker, 2007) …”

  • Others require footnotes/endnotes1.Footnotes appear at the bottom of the page; endnotes at the end of your paper or dissertation.

1. Anthony Grafton, The Footnote: A Curious History (Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 1997).

references or bibliography
‘References’ or ‘Bibliography’?
  • References = works citedOnly contains the items you’ve made specific reference to in your work
  • Bibliography = works consultedA list of everything you read to prepare for the assignment. It contains all the items you’ve cited PLUS sources that you found useful but didn’t cite

(Neville, 2007)

how to do it
How to do it

There are many different citation styles …

citation styles
Citation styles

… and they vary across the University.

Your school or department will probably have a preferred citation style. It might even be mandatory to use a particular style.

citation styles12
Citation styles

Do you know which one you should use …

… or where to find out?

how to do it13
How to do it

Brabazon, Tara. The University of Google: Education in the (Post) Information Age. Aldershot: Ashgate, 2007.

[Book reference, MLA style]

Burn, Andrew, and Jenny Leach, ‘ICT and moving image literacy in English,’ in The impact of ICT on literacy education, ed. by Richard Andrews (London: RoutledgeFalmer, 2004) [Chapter reference, MHRA style]

Mellers, B. A. (2000). Choice and the relative pleasure of consequences. Psychological Bulletin, 126, 910-924.

[Journal article reference, APA5]

Yeh, Michelle. “The ‘Cult of Poetry’ in Contemporary China.” Journal of Asian Studies 55 (1996): 51-80. [Journal article reference, Turabian – reference list style]

online publications
Online publications
  • Similar level of detail to print publications
  • Also include URL or DOI and (usually) date accessed

Uzzi, Brian, and Jarrett Spiro. 2005. Collaboration and creativity: The small world problem. American Journal of Sociology 111, no. 2 (September). (accessed December 19, 2005) [Turabian]

a bit more on when to do it
A bit more on when to do it
  • Paraphrasing
  • Common knowledge
  • Secondary referencing

"You are greeted inside by parallel rows of massive columns that recall the façade of an Egyptian temple, vividly banded in red and blue. Above, projecting walkways and ‘seminar balconies’ zig-zagging around the walls add to the theatrical feel, as do the lattice-sided stairs that criss-cross the interior space like something imagined by Escher or perhaps Piranesi. It's an eclectic and exuberant mix of colours, styles and materials: colourful, a touch vulgar even, but undeniably exciting.”

Once inside the building you face rows of massive Egyptianate columns, banded in blue and red. Above you are walkways and balconies which feel theatrical, while the criss-cross lattice-sided stairs are like something Escher might have imagined. All in all, it is an interesting and exuberant mix of styles and colours. Some might think it is a bit vulgar but you can’t deny that it is exciting.

Courtesy of Andy Priestner, JBS Library

common knowledge
Common knowledge

You don’t need to cite a source if you’re stating a fact that:

  • is widely accessible - you may not know the total population of China, but you would be able to find the answer easily from numerous sources
  • is likely to be known by a lot of people
  • can be found in a general reference resource, such as a dictionary or encyclopedia commonknowledge.html (2008)

secondary referencing
Secondary referencing

You find a useful quotation from another source in the item you’re reading, and can’t locate the original source.

  • Best to get hold of the original if you can, to verify the quotation and its context
  • If you can’t – make it clear in your text that you are relying on an intermediary source!

“Murray’s conclusion (2003, p.65) supported the views of White (2001) on genetic abnormalities in crops.”

(Pears & Shields, 2005)

reference management software
Reference management software
  • Download, import, or manually enter references
  • Keep all your references together and up-to-date
  • Customise fields as you want them
  • Create your bibliography and citations in approved styles
endnote classic version
EndNote (“classic” version)
  • Desktop software available via PWFs and from the Computing Service
  • Interfaces directly with major databases and library catalogues so you can import records, not retype or cut-and-paste them
  • Supported by UCS training sessions
endnote web
EndNote Web
  • Online version, not limited to your desktop
  • Available via University subscription to Web of Knowledge
  • Fewer advanced features than EndNote
  • Find it at
  • Free, open source Firefox extension
  • Automatically recognises citation data and captures with a single click
  • Does not store your records online (yet)
  • Find it at
starting out
Starting out
  • Find the right software – for you
  • When taking notes, distinguish clearly between source quotations, paraphrases, and your own train of thought
getting through
Getting through
  • Futureproof your references: use customisable fields to assign tags, keywords, priority …
  • Organise your downloads: give articles or papers meaningful filenames, and save them where you can find them again
  • Backup regularly
referencing tips finishing up
Referencing tips – finishing up
  • Make sure ALL your references are in one place – and backed up
  • Know which citation style to use
  • Spend time with your references! It will help with the writing-up process
time management
Time management
  • Leave yourself enough time: don’t try to create your bibliography at the last minute. Set aside a weekend, more if you’re doing a Ph.D.
  • Use your downtime: the ‘fuzzy hours’ when you are not creative are good for systematic, repetitive tasks
where to get help
Where to get help …
  • School or department referencing guidelines (essential!)
  • CUSU website: study skills
  • University Offices: plagiarism and referencing
  • Libraries and librarians

- Print copies of major style guides (UL Reading Room: R860)

- Library research skills sessions

  • Computing Service training
bibliography and further reading
Bibliography and further reading

Li, Xia. Electronic Style: A Guide to Citing Electronic Information. Westport: Meckler, 1993.

Neville, Colin. The Complete Guide to Referencing and Avoiding Plagarism. 3 January 2007. <> (accessed 30 January 2009).

Pears, Richard, and Graham Shields. Cite Them Right: the Essential Guide to Referencing and Plagiarism. Newcastle: Pear Tree, 2005.

Stothard, Michael. “‘1 in 2’ Admits to Plagiarism.” Varsity 31 Oct. 2008: 1-2.

Turabian, Kate L. A Manual for Writers of Research Papers, Theses, and Dissertations. 7th ed. Chicago: U of Chicago P, 2007.

research skills programme
Research Skills Programme

At can …

  • Find our timetable of subject-based sessions
  • Book for hands-on information skills classes
  • Request one-to-one training
  • Download these slides and other handouts

E-mail us at