Throughout your university life you will be asked to reference. Referencing is a history of what you have read and researched in conjunction with that piece of work. Citing is making it clear where you are using someone else’s work, either a direct quote or referencing.

During your A-levels, you may have done a little research outside of your textbook but at university, research is essential.

Research does four important things:

  1. shows that your work has a substantial factual basis

  2. shows how your conclusion was reached

  3. puts your work in an intellectual context

  4. reveals your research skills and expertise in certain areas

And referencing? Rather crudely, if you don’t reference you have no trace of all the research you have done. Again, rather crudely, referencing also guards you against plagiarism, something no student wants to be punished for.

There are, or course, others;

Benefits to referencing:

  • you have an instant record of the reading you have done

  • you can see if any past reading is applicable to your current piece of work and use this

  • reading journals and academic books have a habit of leading you to other journals and books which focus on the same area

  • an instant, fairly extensive, revision base

  • and, of course, there is no other feeling quite like having a lovely big bibliography at the end of your work!

Referencing is done in many different ways depending on your institution and school. It is vital that you check the required referencing method before beginning. It is likely that your institution has its own resource on referencing and will state what is needed. Also contact your course leader; they may have a specific way they want it done.

If not, a good referencing guide has been created by the University of the West of England, giving guidance, advice and short quizzes on referencing in different ways.

One top tip for referencing: make a note of what you have read. If you read it but don’t record it: a) you may forget it and b) you will waste time trying to find the source again.

Some people find the card system useful. Keep a card for each piece of reading you have done. On this card write down all of the details you need for your referencing system and, once your piece of work is completed, you can shuffle the cards into the correct order for your bibliography. If you have a longer piece of work it might be better to record them onto your computer straight away. Use whatever method you find works best for you, but definitely record as you research.