Why reference?

Referencing is an important academic skill as it shows the reader of your work the sources you have used to research your topic, and gives support and weight to your arguments and conclusions. When writing an essay or thesis, referring to the sources you have used is an academic requirement. There are four good reasons for referencing;

  •  To allow a reader of your work to find and check the sources you have used.
  •  So that you can come back to your own work and know where you found a particular quotation or piece of information.
  •  To avoid accusations of plagiarism.
  •  To make you think twice about using outdated and inaccurate books, articles, or websites.

As a general rule you should not put your trust in any resource which does not give references.

Cite Them Right

The University has adopted the Cite Them Right style of referencing. According to the co-authors, Graham Shields and Richard Pears (2023):

"Referencing is the process of acknowledging other people’s work when you have used it in your assignment or research. It allows the reader to locate your source material as quickly and easily as possible so that they can read these sources themselves and verify the validity of your arguments. Referencing provides the link between what you write and the evidence on which it is based.  You identify the sources that you have used by citing them in the text of your assignment (called citations or in-text citations) and referencing them at the end of your assignment (called the reference list or end-text citations). The reference list only includes the sources cited in your text. It is not the same thing as a bibliography, which uses the same referencing style, but also includes all material, for example background readings, used in the preparation of your work." . Pears, R. and Shields, G. (2023) 'What is referencing?', in Cite them right online. DOI: 10.5040/9781350928060.3.

"Cite them right online" has an excellent Tutorial which you can sign up to as a member of the University.  This will cover all the main areas of referencing and give you a thorough grounding in the reasons for, and academic context of, referencing practice.  It is highly recommended, especially if you are newer to referencing or returning to studies.

Referencing software

Please see our Referencing Software pages for details of referencing software options.


Plagiarism is the act of using or copying someone else's work and pretending that you thought of it or created it. In order to avoid suspicion of plagiarism it is important to make appropriate use of references.

If you are in doubt about what plagiarism is and how to avoid it you should consult your tutor and read the University's code of practice on plagiarism, or you can look at our more detailed pages on plagiarism.


At present copyright law allows only small extracts of items to be copied legally provided that they are referenced properly. Only copy what is completely necessary, and only when the use falls into one or more of the following categories:

  •     personal private study
  •     non-commercial research
  •     criticism and review
  •     illustration for instruction
  •     parody pastiche or caricature
  •     quotation

Students’ use will fall under personal private study, criticism and review, illustration, and/or quotation. For further information, see our extensive copyright guidance.


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