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Developing good academic practice
Developing good academic practice

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5.1 Why should you cite references?

When producing an assignment, any other assessed piece of work or something that is going to be viewed and/or used by others, it is important to include complete and accurate references because:

  • your references show you have read around the subject;
  • your academic argument will be stronger if it’s supported by evidence from other people’s research;
  • others will be able to find and use the same sources that informed your work, which in turn allows them to check the validity and authenticity of your work, as well as develop and enhance their own understanding of the subject.

If you use other people’s work to construct your answers and do not include appropriate references, then you will be passing off other people’s work as your own, and so be guilty of plagiarism.

As you progress through your academic career, it is important to develop your study skills and understand when, where and what you need to reference. It is equally important to develop an understanding of what you don't need to reference (e.g. your own thoughts and ideas, and anything that constitutes common knowledge).

The various styles in which you should present references are briefly described below, but which system you use and the exact form of the reference depends upon the advice given by your university or college. You should check your course material for specific details about which form of referencing to use.