Referencing and plagiarism

These pages provide general support and advice on referencing and plagiarism.


Why cite?

  • To acknowledge your debt to other authors' intellectual property.
  • To demonstrate the body of knowledge upon which your research is based (this is often an important assessment criteria).
  • To enable your reader to locate your sources easily.
  • To avoid accusations of plagiarism.

References are full details of all the sources you have used (cited) in your work, typically in a list at the end of your work.

Citations are partial references within the main body of your text. Citing a work commonly involves incorporating the author or creator of a work into your text. This links your reader to the full reference typically found in a list at the end of your text.

There are many different referencing styles. Your tutor will advise you which system is the preferred one for your course or module.

RefWorks bibliographic management software is also available to help you organise and manage your references.


Plagiarism is defined by the New Oxford Shorter English Dictionary as "the taking and using as one's own ... the thoughts, writings and inventions of another". This can occur through copying, summarising or paraphrasing someone else's work or ideas, not acknowledging the original author and passing the material off as your own independent work, either directly or indirectly.

The University views plagiarism as an academic irregularity and there are a number of different penalties which may be applied to plagiarism offences. The Student Handbook has a section on Academic Irregularities, which outlines the penalties and states that plagiarism includes:

'The incorporation of material derived from the work (published or unpublished) of another, by unacknowledged quotation, paraphrased imitation or other device in any work submitted for progression towards or for the completion of an award, which in any way suggests that it is the student's own original work. Such work may include printed material in textbooks, journals and material accessible electronically for example from web pages.'

Examples of plagiarism include:

  • The inclusion in a candidate’s work of material from another person’s work without the use of quotation marks and full acknowledgement of the source;
  • The summarising of another person’s work by simply changing words or altering the order of presentation, without full acknowledgement;
  • Self-plagiarism. Students are not permitted to reuse work they have previously submitted, without proper reference and acknowledgement in the current assessment being submitted.

Penalties for plagiarism range from capped marks and zero marks to dismissal from the course and termination of studies.

To ensure that you aren't accused of plagiarism, look at the sections on Plagiarism Support and Turnitin.


Boots Library level -1 Male student using laptop
Clifton library Level 1 Female student using books
Brackenhurt Library Students male and female studying at fixed PCs