Why do teaching staff insist on references?
The process of finding information and developing your own interpretations almost always involves making use of the ideas of other people. It is essential that you acknowledge the words and inspiration of others. This is both a matter of fairness and part of the process of learning at university.
You need to indicate to your lecturer what are your own ideas and what has been taken from the work of others, so that he or she can assess your progress and provide you with appropriate guidance.
Referencing enables a reader to go directly to your sources to follow your arguments more closely or find the exact words of the authors.
Read the Chapter titled, 'Quotations, Footnotes and Bibliographies' for tips on organising and developing a referencing system.
Poor or sloppy referencing will cost you marks, but this is not the worst thing that can happen. If you copy a sentence or a paragraph out of a book or journal article word-for-word and fail to indicate the source (which is usually done by placing the text in quotation marks and providing a reference), then you are committing plagiarism. Another sort of plagiarism is when you copy all or part of an assignment written by someone else and submit the copy as if it was your own work.
Before you hand in an assignment, you must attach a Plagiarism Form stating that your assignment is your own work. Do not just print and sign this form. Make sure you read it, and understand what you are signing, before you do.
What should be referenced?
You must reference such things as quotations, statistics, facts, theories and ideas. Both published and unpublished works should be referenced, including material in print, electronic or audio-visual format.
Sticking to the correct referencing style
There are many different styles of referencing. Different schools have their own preferences. The ASO has a page on the different referencing styles in use at UNE. It is usually a good idea to check your Unit Handbook for the information on the referencing style you need to use for each unit.
This page has looked at the importance of a systematic approach to looking for information. This includes:
- keeping details of how and where you found information;
- recording appropriate bibliographic details for each source;
- ensuring that you reference appropriately; and
- making sure that you adhere to the set referencing style.
The next page will help you determine whether or not you have used information appropriately.
Try these quick self-test questions to assess what you have learnt from this module.