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Plagiarism: Reasons for referencing

Referencing is acknowledging that you have used information from different sources.

Reasons to reference include:

  • to avoid being guilty of plagiarism
  • to lend credibility/evidence to your argument
  • to show the research that you have done.

Referencing essentials

When to reference

You should reference when you use information, ideas or words that are not your own. Categories that these things may come from are:

  • personal communication (information from meetings, surveys, emails or conversations)
  • websites (anything you look at online that was written by someone else)
  • published material (books, journals etc)
  • unpublished material (company reports, theses etc)
  • lecture notes (material given to you by your lecture which may have been written by them and/or based on other information).

When to use quotation marks

  • When you have used exactly the same words as the original source. You should only really do this when the WAY the author has expressed their idea is very important in your work.

Limits on use direct quotes

  • There is no rule but in general is best to use direct quotes sparingly: when any paraphrasing will reduce the clarity and succinctness of the original, when you intend to critique the quote, when the quote introduces a key point or definition.

Using a reference that says exactly what you want to say

  • You can copy and reference, but only if you use quotation marks and reference it.

Paraphrasing and referencing

  • To paraphrase you need to express the original idea in your own words
  • It is not enough to change one or two words
  • It is not enough to change the word order
  • and you do need to reference paraphrased material.

Writing a summary the need to include a reference

  • Read the source a number of times and then put it aside and write the information in your own words
  • You do need to reference it because you are still using someone else’s ideas.

Work is cluttered in references

  • Too many quotes looks like you have just patched other people’s ideas together
  • You need to demonstrate that you have something of your own to contribute to the discussion
  • Make sure that your ‘voice’ comes through in your work - ie make sure you have a 'story' that uses the references for evidence, examples etc
  • Your lecturers don't think of references as 'cluttering' your work - they expect to see them there and will be alarmed if they're not!

A reference at the bottom of the paragraph does not ‘cover’ the entire section

  • The paragraph should include some of your own ideas or inferences that you have drawn based on the referenced material so it would be incorrect to attribute those ideas to the other author.

Using references that are cited by another author without reading them personally

  • You can do this; these are known as secondary sources
  • This means that you need to reference them in a particular way to make it clear what you've done (see the example page for more info).

What counts as plagiarism

  • If your work includes exactly the same phrases or sentences as the source material
  • If you put you work beside the original and the wording and structure are too similar.

Group work

  • As all authors are credited with their contributions tis is not plagiarism. However, unacknowledged collaboration with another student will constitute plagiarism.

Reference style to use

  • Whichever reference style is recommended by your faculty
  • Whichever reference style you are using, make sure you are consistent.

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