Why do I need to reference?

You’re reading a textbook, and in one of the chapters the author describes a method developed by another researcher 10 years ago. The method is an essential one to the experiment you want to do, and you need more information about it. How do you find out about the method?

The easiest thing to do is to look at the references in the textbook. The author will have included a reference to the researcher’s original work about the method. It’s an article published in a journal, and you will know all of this by looking at the reference. With that information you can use Library Search to search for the journal title, find the journal (it’s probably published online) and read the article.

In the context of your academic work you need to reference because:

  • accurate referencing is a key component of good academic practice and enhances the presentation of your work: it shows that your writing is based on knowledge and informed by appropriate academic reading;
  • you will ensure that anyone reading your work can trace the sources you have used in the development of your work, and give you credit for your research efforts and quality, and
  • if you do not acknowledge another writer’s work or ideas, you could be accused of plagiarism.

 Prev: Referencing and citing: Learning outcomes

Next: What do I need to know to write a reference?


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