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References and Citations

What is referencing?

Referencing is an important skill which helps others trace the sources and ideas you have used in your assignment or research.

There are two elements which make up a reference:

  • An indication within the text of your work where you have mentioned the ideas or works of others. This is the citation or "in-text citation".
  • A full description of the source used, in your reference list or bibliography at the end of your work.

Referencing is one of the skills you can develop as part of the Research and Critical Thinking element of the Personal Best skills programme.

Why do I need to reference?

At university you are expected to reference your work as part of the process of scholarly research and this is an essential academic requirement.

By providing enough information for others to find the resources and ideas you have used the reader can check the accuracy and validity of the evidence and arguments you have presented.

Referencing also demonstrates that you have read widely and gives credit to the authors whose works and ideas you have used, thus helping to avoid plagiarism. Plagiarism is considered by the University to be an act of academic misconduct with serious consequences, see advice on avoiding plagiarism below.

How do I reference?

There University does not have a standard referencing style and there are a number of different conventions to choose from. It is therefore essential that you check with your department or tutor which referencing style you are required to use for your work. Information on this is often in your departmental handbook on LEARN.

Do be aware though that there may be requirements for you to use a specific referencing style for a certain piece of work so always check the assessment guidelines. Good referencing is clear, careful, consistent and complete.

Referencing guides for the most widely used styles are available below. Be aware that you not only need to reference text and ideas that you use in your work but diagrams, lines of code, tables, graphs and photos too.

Referencing guides

Reference management

Reference management software enables you to create a personal database of references which can then be automatically formatted for use in your work. Mendeley is the referencing software that Loughborough University recommends and supports.

Sources of help

Your Academic Librarian offers support and guidance on good referencing practice.

Visit the Library Learn module LBA001 for further referencing resources or try the online resource Cite Them Right Online which provides referencing examples in a variety of styles.

What is plagiarism?

Loughbrorough University's definition of plagiarism is:

"submitting work as the candidate's own of which the candidate is not the author. This includes failure to acknowledge clearly and explicitly the ideas, words or work of another person whether these are published or unpublished."  Loughborough University, Regulation XVII

One way of avoiding plagiarism is by use of correct referencing practice.