Skip to Main Content
Library Guides

Referencing & Plagiarism

What is referencing?

Referencing allows you to distinguish your own ideas from the research you have read so that your lecturers can clearly see your understanding of a topic.  References will have 3 components:

Content: This is how you use the information within your work. You may choose to paraphrase, summarise and or quote the source.

Citation: This is the brief reference within the body of your text or in your footnote immediately after the quote or summary. This refers the reader to the reference list.

Reference List: This is the full list of all the sources you have read with all the details to enable your reader to find the source themselves.

How To Reference (guides by referencing style)

A referencing style is a set of rules to guide authors in citing the work of others and creating bibliographies.  There are several referencing styles - the golden rule is to be consistent. Your student handbook should provide you with information and guidelines on the style your school or programme requires you to use.  Please ask your tutor if you are not sure which style to use.

The main styles used at Plymouth University include variations of the following:

  • an author and date format (e.g. Plymouth Cite Them Right Harvard or APA)

  • numbered footnotes (Humanities)

Use the style guides below to see how to reference sources in your required style:

cite them right online

Cite Them Right

Cite Them Right explains how to reference in a variety of styles with many examples of sources referenced in the Harvard style. There are also explanations of how to reference common sources in styles such as: APA, Vancouver, OSCOLA, MHRA and Chicago.

APA 7th

APA 7th

When psychologists write articles, reports or book chapters, they use the APA (American Psychological Association) style to reference the work of other people.  Please check your programme handbook to see whether you should be using APA 6th or APA 7th style when writing your assessments

Humanities Style

Humanities Style

The Plymouth Humanities Style  - a unique in house University style based on MLA handbook for writers of research papers, 7th ed. New York: Modern Language Association of America, 2009

Why is referencing important?

Referencing is an essential part of academic work and helps you demonstrate a number of skills. It is important because:

  • it demonstrates your own contribution, ideas and understanding of the topic as distinct from the ideas of others

  • it acknowledges and showcases the literature based research you have done plus demonstrates your understanding of the existing body of research

  • it enables readers to follow up on your references and respects the intellectual rights of other scholars (avoiding plagiarism)

  • it demonstrates consistency and attention to detail and can help make your writing more persuasive.

Rather than see referencing as a chore try and view it as an opportunity to make your work more professional and also improve your grade.