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Research Process: A Step-By-Step Guide: Step 5: Cite

What is referencing?

It is important that you identify in your assignment when you are using the words or ideas of another author. Referencing is the most accepted way of acknowledging these sources. You should list them at the end of your document, on the last page (or last few pages).

DkIT uses the Harvard Referencing system and it has two essential elements.

Citing: referring to sources you used within the main text of your document

Reference List: a detailed list of sources cited in your work, located at the end of your document.

See our Quick Guide to Harvard Referencing for more information and examples.

Why reference?

Accurate referencing is a key part of good academic practice and enhances the presentation of your work:

  • It shows that your writing is based on knowledge of the subject and informed by appropriate academic reading.
  • You will ensure that anyone reading your work can trace the sources you have used; including your lecturer checking the validity of your arguments.
  • If you do not acknowledge another person’s work or ideas, you could be accused of plagiarism. 
  • Plus your lecturers are very keen to see good reference lists and will give you credit for your research efforts and quality.

How to create a Reference List

It is important that you write down the details of your sources as you research.  This saves time at the end of your assignment.  In a reference list, you only need to list those sources from which you have either quoted or paraphrased.  For example, you do not have to list books you used for background reading purposes.  However these can be listed in a bibliography

Using a reference management programme like Mendeley can streamline the process.

The important details (i.e. author, title, date of publication etc.).can be found -

  • on the title page, or the back of the title page, of a book
  • on the front cover or on the contents page of a magazine
  • at the beginning or the end of a document on the internet.

Add your sources (texts, articles, interviews, etc.) in alphabetical order by authors' last names. Use the title when a source has no author. All sources should be listed together; there should not be separate lists for books versus journal articles versus electronic sources.  The reference list should be on a separate page from the rest of the assignment and should be simply titled ‘References’

Some lecturers may want you to produce a bibliography instead of a reference list.  In this case, you must list all sources you have consulted, regardless of whether you cited from them or not.

What should you include in your reference list?

All of the sources you refer to in the main body of your assignment need to be listed at the end of the assignment in a reference list  (A-Z by author surname). 

Referencing Manager

You can make referencing easier through the use of a reference manager such as Mendeley. You can check out our guide to the Mendeley reference manager here

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