Referencing & citing

Referencing and citing links your reading to your writing and allows you to strengthen your arguments, add credibility by referring to the ideas and work of others and, importantly, minimise the chance of plagiarism by acknowledging the sources used.

Get started with referencing and citing

Our team of Peer Academic Coaches have created short video resources to assist you with referencing and citing.You will find these in the accordion sections below, but first, start with this Introduction to Referencing resource.

You’ve been given an assessment for a new subject and you're unsure of what referencing style to use. Your first step will be to look at your subject outline, which should tell you what style of referencing to use. Usually, you will find your referencing requirements for a subject at the end of Section B of the subject outline. If the subject outline doesn’t say anything about which referencing style you should use, check with your lecturer or use UOW Harvard, which is the default style.

You probably know that there are various styles of referencing used at UOW, including UOW Harvard, APA7, and the AGLC, just to name a few. Each style uses a different method of referencing. 

Many students find referencing difficult, which is why the UOW Learning Development Team have created referencing guides for 2 of the most common referencing styles – UOW Harvard and APA7 - to help you out! Referencing guides for other styles can also be found on the UOW referencing and citing webpage.

It’s a good idea to reference as you are writing the assignment, rather than doing it all at the end because it is always easier to reference at the time rather than trying to find the source again later. Also, before you submit your work, make sure you check the punctuation and format of your references, including full stops, and what needs to be in italics.

If you need more help with referencing, ask us - we'd love to help. Visit the Learning Co-Op by searching "UOW Learning Co-Op" and talk to one of our friendly Peer Coaches online or in the Library. The UOW Learning Development Team and Library also have websites with great resources about referencing to help you.


Learn more about referencing and citing

Referencing and citing is an important aspect of academic writing and there are many questions you may have about it, including why we do this and how to go about it.

Your peer coaches have some excellent tips in their video about what to do if information is missing.

Video: What to do if information is missing when referencing?

Video transcript

Referencing sources is an important part of academic writing. By using a referencing guide, you can make sure you are referencing correctly. But what do you do when you can’t find all the information you need to complete the reference?

For example, have you ever been on a webpage that has no author or no date, or found a journal article with no page numbers? How can you reference these sources correctly?

The first step when this happens is to do your best to find the missing information. Sometimes it may be hiding somewhere, such as in very small text at the bottom of a web page. Or finding the source another way may give you the information you need - for example, you may find the information by opening a journal article’s full text in a PDF as this should provide the article’s issue number and page numbers.

If you still can’t find the information, don’t stress! This happens sometimes. Check your referencing guide carefully, as it will usually tell you how to reference a source with missing information. For example, if you can’t find the date for a source, often ‘n.d.’ is used to indicate ‘no date’. The main thing to remember is you can only include the information that you have - never make up information about a source.

Always talk to your subject coordinator, lecturer or tutor if you have questions about referencing in a specific subject or assignment. 

If you need more help with referencing, ask us - we’d love to help. Visit the Learning Co-Op by searching "UOW Learning Co-Op" and talk to one of our friendly Peer Coaches online or in the Library. The UOW Learning Development Team and Library also have websites. They have great resources about referencing to help you.

Different referencing styles are used across UOW depending on the field of study. It is essential to check in each Subject Outline and/or check with your subject co-ordinator or tutor about which is the correct style to use.

Video: How to use UOW referencing guides

Video transcript

The UOW Learning Development Team have created referencing guides for two of the most common referencing styles - UOW Harvard and APA7 - to help you out! The guides are easy to use and explain what information is required, and how the referenced should be formatted or arranged.

To find the guides, search ‘UOW Current Students’ into Google and click the link. Scroll down to the Learning Co-Op, then once you are on that page, scroll down to ‘Referencing and Citing’. On this page, you will see all the different kinds of referencing used at UOW, click on the one that you will need to use.

Make sure to check your subject outline to see which referencing style your subject requires.

Once you know this, you can click on the guide for the relevant referencing style. For example, if your subject outline says to use ‘UOW Harvard’, click the tab that says ‘UOW Harvard’ on the left. This will have all the different sources and how to format each one. For example, if you want to reference a journal article with two authors, click on ‘Journals’, the ‘Journal article (2-3 authors)’. The guide will tell you how to cite this journal article in your text, as well as how to put it into your reference list correctly. Look out for the punctuation that is used in the guide’s examples and always double check your work!

Be sure to cross-check your referencing and citing with the Guide before you submit.

Since you will be using the referencing guides quite a lot throughout your degree, it is worthwhile bookmarking the page of the referencing style you’ll use the most.

If you need more help with referencing, ask us - we’d love to help. Visit the Learning Co-Op by searching ‘UOW Learning Co-Op’ and talk to one of our friendly Peer Coaches online or in the Library. The UOW Learning Development Team and Library also have websites. They have great resources about referencing to help you.

Referencing guides for some common styles used at UOW

More referencing styles hosted by other universities

In academic writing you need to use evidence to support your argument and the information you present, and there are various ways to integrate evidence into your writing. The "Using other people's ideas in your academic writing" video from your peer coaches provides an introduction to these critical ways of integrating evidence, while more details are in the resources below.

Video: Using other people's ideas in your academic writing

Video transcript

Many of your university assignments will require you to research information and use this to write your assignments. This means you will need to know how and when to paraphrase, summarise and quote. But what do these actually mean?

Paraphrasing requires using your own words to talk about the work and ideas of others without changing the meaning. This demonstrates to the marker that you have understood and engaged with others’ work and ideas.

Summarising means identifying the most important parts of what you’ve read – either in one source or across a number of sources - and rephrase it in a shorter way. This will also require you to use our own words while keeping the meaning of the original text or texts. 

Quoting means using the exact words of another text. If you want to use a direct quote from a text, you can do so by copying the text, and putting it into quotation marks.

Paraphrasing, summarising and quoting will all require referencing, because the idea or information has come from someone else. Once you have written about the idea or information, you will need to reference the source in the style your subject requires. For example, if you are using UOW Harvard style, you’ll need to do an in-text citation (author, date) and put the full reference in a reference list at the end of your work. Remember, when using a quote, always put it in double quotation marks. And a reminder that if you don’t reference properly, you may be plagiarising. 

When you are using quotations, try not to overuse them! Quotes should only comprise about 10% of your total citations – you should use paraphrasing and summarising more than quoting. This way, you’ll be able to show your marker that you understand the content you are writing about.

If you want more help with paraphrasing or summarising, have a look at these UOW Learning Co-op resources:

Key points

  • Paraphrasing: A critical academic practice of using your own words to talk about the work and ideas of others without changing the meaning. Learn more about paraphrasing
  • Quoting: Using the exact words from another work and presenting them in an appropriate format in your text.
  • Summarising: A great habit to get into where you extract from a text the most relevant information for your needs. You probably already do this in your daily life. Learn more about summarising

When undertaking research for assessments you must decide whether a source is reliable or not, particularly if you have found it online. For instance, a peer-reviewed journal article is likely more trustworthy than a blog.

The Assessing online sources peer coach video includes an introduction to checking for relevancy and the "CRAAP" test.

Video: What is a reputable and reliable source?

Video transcript

There are a large variety of sources - including online sources - you can use to help you with your assignments and research. But it’s important to know what kind of source you are using, and whether that source is reputable and reliable!

Usually, it will be easy to know what sort of source you are looking at and that it’s probably a good source for a university assignment, e.g., an academic journal article or a book. Other times, it can be more difficult to know what sort of source it is and – importantly - whether you should use it. For example, what about a government publication that you find on a website? Or a company web page? As you can see from the long list of sources in a referencing guide, there are many different types of sources you can use. But be aware that some are better sources of evidence than others! 

Once you know what type of source you have, how can you tell if the information is good quality? A good place to start is to check the currency of the source -more recently created sources often contain more up-to-date information. Another important thing to check is whether the source is actually relevant to the topic you are writing about – you don’t want to waste time reading irrelevant material. Who wrote the text is also important – are they a qualified and trusted authority on the topic? Or could they be biased? Think about the accuracy of the information – where does it come from, and is it supported by good evidence?  Finally, think about the purpose of writing it – is it to inform or persuade the reader? Also, checking whether the article has been peer reviewed is a good indication of reliability. 

If you are still unsure whether your source is reliable, you could compare the text with other sources on the same topic. If they are saying the same thing, it is more likely to be a reliable source.

When working out what source you need to reference, it is a good idea to go back to the UOW referencing guide you are using. Try to find the category that best matches your source.

The UOW Learning Co-Op and the Library have some great resources about finding and using information and about the ‘CRAAP’ test, which will help you to evaluate the quality of a source.

There are several tools that can assist you with referencing:

  • Endnote: This tool is supported by UOW and can be used by postgraduate students to help manage information sources when writing. Learn more about EndNote
  • Other referencing tools: Tools recommended for undergraduate students include Zotero and Mendeley. Find out more