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Academic Skills Essentials: Referencing

What is referencing?

Referencing, or citation, is a vital aspect of research and academic writing. Referencing is a formal, systematic way of acknowledging the sources (other writers’ words, ideas, theories) that you have found in your research and used in your writing.

Whenever you use someone else’s words, or someone else’s ideas or opinions, from any medium (book, magazine, journal article, newspaper, web page) in your own work, you must provide a reference in the correct format. 


Why do we reference?

Referencing is an established convention of academic writing – acknowledging other writers’ contributions to our thoughts and writing is one of the foundations of Western scholarship. References demonstrate to your readers that you are familiar with the important sources in your field of research and allows the reader to trace, verify, and even to use the sources you give.

Failing to acknowledge other writers’ words, ideas or theories, either intentionally or unintentionally, is called plagiarism.

Plagiarism is taken very seriously at ECU and is subject to academic penalties. You need to reference correctly so as to avoid plagiarism.

The APA (American Psychological Association) referencing system is used at ECU. The APA referencing style is prescriptive – that is you must follow it exactly. Full details of the APA requirements are available in the ECU Referencing Guide.

In the APA system, references are given both in-text (that is, in your assignment itself using an author date system) and end-text (that is, in a ‘Reference List’ on a separate page at the end of your assignment).

In-text referencing

Whenever you use other people’s words, ideas, theories, diagrams, graphs, graphics, definitions etc., you must reference your source/s using an in-text reference. Types of in-text references include direct quotes, paraphrases, summaries and syntheses.

End-text referencing

An end-text ‘Reference List’ records bibliographical information for each source you have referred to, quoted from or paraphrased (and only those sources) in the body of your written work.

The ‘Reference List’ appears at the end of your written work, on a separate page, and is arranged in alphabetical order. Formats vary slightly according to the source. See the ECU Referencing Guide for these formats.

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