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How and why you should reference

Referencing is a way of showing when someone else's work has been used to support ideas presented in a text, article, vidcast, research study or other piece of work. Referencing is widely used in academic writing and commercial publishing. Referencing applies when someone EITHER quotes someone else directly OR paraphrases someone else’s work, ie puts it into their own words.

Whenever you are submitting assignments as part of your course, or are writing for publication, you should use the referencing system recommended by the relevant institution or publisher.

Why do it?

Referencing gives credit to others for their original work and enables readers to follow through on ideas, it has added benefits for students: 

  • Identifying sources - Including references in your work demonstrates your ability to critically assess a question and identify relevant sources to help you to explain the issues raised and discuss competing viewpoints.

  • Subject knowledge - referencing helps you to demonstrate your awareness of the material which has been published on a subject.

  • Evaluation skills - prove you know how to assess the validity of sources and can make selections which are appropriate to the topic, your level of study and the purpose of the assignment.

  • Presentation skills - proper referencing helps to presenting information in a consistent manner. Referencing is an important part of academic study and you will be expected to use referencing in essays, exams, presentations and tutorials / groupwork. 
  • Plagiarism - most universities routinely use software to check that work submitted has not been plagiarised. Giving credit to other people's work will help you to avoid unintentional plagiarism.

Which system should I use?

Law students are expected to use the OSCOLA system (Oxford Standard for the Citation Of Legal Authorities) which is designed for legal cases etc.

Students studying Psychology are expected to use the APA (American Psychological Association) scheme.

All other students are expected to use the UWS Referencing Guidelines which provide an interpretation of the Harvard system.

What are reference management tools?

When preparing a piece of work it is always a good idea to keep a record of all the resources (articles, books, etc) that you have used. You can do this manually, by creating a list on Microsoft Word (or similar), or by using a reference management tool (eg EndNote).

Reference management software is recommended for those studying at a higher degree level. This type of tool enables you to store and organise the sources that you read and to record the information that you need to create a reference. 

UWS holds a licence for EndNote reference management software, which allows users to either create an online account with EndNote Online, or to use EndNote Desktop on your own device or on any university computer.

You can download EndNote Desktop to your own device via the Library dashboard on MyDay

If you are new to EndNote then please view the Reference Management Software post on #uwsLibTalks padlet for an overview of this tool. We offer training on using EndNote, which you can request at

You are welcome to explore other reference management platforms that might suit your needs, however UWS does not currently support any other products. 


Last updated: 21/07/2017