Referencing is the acknowledgement of the sources that you use in your work. You must reference all sources that you use in your assignments, projects or dissertations, and includes quotes, ideas, facts, images, videos, audio, websites, statistics, diagrams and data.
Over the next two weeks we will be producing a series of blogs focusing on how to reference successfully in your work. We will cover…
explain why referencing is important
advice on how to produce consistent and reliable referencing
help on how to manage your information to make your life easier and assignments less stressful
point you in the direction of where to find advice and help
So come in from the cold and warm up with some referencing help and keep your eyes peeled for our upcoming blogs.
Referencing is an important part of academic writing –
you’ll usually find it included in the marking criteria for your assignments
and projects, with marks being awarded for correctly formatted citations and
Why is referencing important?
It acknowledges the ideas and contributions of
others that you have drawn upon in your work, ensuring that you avoid
It highlights the range of reading you’ve done
for your assignment and makes your own contribution clear, showing how you’ve
taken ideas from others and built upon them
It enables the person reading your work to
follow up on your references so they can learn more about the ideas you’ve
discussed in your work or check any facts and figures.
How does referencing work?
Are there any tools that can help?
Yes! There are lots of referencing tools that can help you manage and format your citations and references correctly. Here are some examples:
A very useful online tool that lists all the information you need to include in a reference and provides examples of how a reference will look as an in-text citation and in a reference list. See our ‘Level Up Your Referencing: Cite Them Right’ blog for more information.
Keep an eye out for this symbol on Library
Search and Google Scholar. Clicking the
button will provide the option for you to copy a reference in a particular
style and paste it directly into your reference list. You might need to tidy it up a little bit but
it will save you time over writing them manually.
Reference building tools help you
to create a bibliography using the correct referencing style. You can input information manually or use
import functions to pull information through from other webpages or documents. As with the citation button above, reference
building tools can save you time but you may still need to check the references
Reference Management Software: e.g. EndNote
If you’re writing a detailed essay, dissertation or thesis, you may like to use a reference management tool such as EndNote, Mendeley or Zotero to help keep all of your references organised. This software allows you to manually add references or import them from Library Search, Google Scholar or Subject Databases; sort references into groups; attach pdf documents or add notes. You can then use the reference management software while you write to add in-text citations and format your reference list.
The University has a subscription for EndNote which is available in all University clusters and can be downloaded to your own personal device. You’ll find information about how to get started with EndNote on our EndNote Guide.
Remember: whatever tool you use, it’s always a good idea to get to know the conventions of the referencing style your school or lecturer would like you to use so that you can spot mistakes or missing information.
You can find out more about referencing and plagiarism by following this tutorial from Cite Them Right (You’ll need to log in to the institutional log in with your University username and password.)
Do you have an assignment or research question and don’t know where to start? Search no further, your subject-specific LibGuide is only a few clicks away.
Follow the link above and then choose the Faculty and relevant School. Once you are there you will see the key resources that are provided for you:
Navigate to the ‘Journals and Databases’ tab. This will display the databases where you can search for the journal articles that you need. Don’t know how to use this avalanche of links? We have instructions:
From the Databases tab, click on the next tab along, in the centre of the screen that reads ‘Journals and Database Help’.
Is the information too vast and you feel like you’ve hit a wall? You can ask your liaison librarian team for help. From the same navigation menu on the left side of the screen, click on ‘Subject Help and News’. There, you can find the team’s contact details and further down the page, you can request to book a one-to-one consultation with a member of the team.
The official blurb on EndNote is
that it is “…the industry standard software tool for publishing and managing
bibliographies, citations and references.”
Have you drifted off yet? Don’t – read on!
EndNote takes a little getting used to
and we recommend you familiarise yourself with it at the start of your research
process. But as Library Staff, we wouldn’t spend a
significant amount of time demonstrating and training our academic staff and
students on what EndNote is, and how to use it, if we didn’t think it was
valuable. It will save you a huge amount of
time in terms of writing up your assignments.
Essentially, you can use EndNote to
create and organise a personal library of resources relevant to your research.
You can import references from Library Search, and a huge range of databases such
as Scopus, Web of Science, IEEE Xplore and Business Source Complete. You can ask EndNote to locate
the full-text PDFs of the resources you are going to use in your research, and
you can annotate them as you wish too. Did you know you can instruct Google Scholar to
import references into EndNote? No? Try
it. Finally, if you already have materials stored in your home
folder (H:\) then you can attach them to a manually-created
reference within EndNote, bringing all your research together in one place.
In addition to organising your
references (and this is the clever bit) you can then get EndNote to ‘talk’ to
your word processing software, e.g. Microsoft
Word, and insert the citations into your work for you in your
chosen referencing style, e.g. Harvard at Newcastle,
Vancouver, APA or MLA. If you don’t want to do that, then EndNote will also
allow you to create an independent bibliography of your references, saving you
an awful lot of typing.
Intrigued? You should be. Take a look at our EndNote Guide. It contains all the introductory information you need, step-by-step workbooks to train yourself on the use of EndNote (the Desktop and Online versions), videos, useful FAQs, and contacts for help, should you need it.
Finally, Newcastle University
provides support for EndNote but it is not compulsory to use. You may
prefer Mendeley, Zotero, RefWorks or another piece of bibliographic
management software. That’s fine, whatever makes your referencing lives easier. Go on, give them a try.
A common mistake made in referencing is grouping all sources
found online under the category and reference type of a website. Your aim
should be to reference the information you have in front of you rather than
where it was sourced. Simply grouping items found online as a website would be
the equivalent of referencing a book by the publisher details rather than the
author and title.
For example, a government publication found online would be referenced
like this in Chicago.
United Kingdom. Department for Education. Cloud computing: how schools can move services to the cloud. London: The Stationary Office, 2016. Accessed: November 4, 2019. https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/cloud-computing-how-schools-can-move-services-to-the-cloud.
An electronic journal article might appear like this in APA.
Gillum, J. (2012). Dyscalculia: Issues for
practice in education psychology. Educational Psychology in
Practice, 28(3), 287-297. doi:10.1080/02667363.2012.684344
While a video posted on the Tate website would look something like this
TateShots (2016) Grayson Perry: think like an artist. Available at: https://www.tate.org.uk/whats-on/tate-modern/talk/what-makes-artist-grayson-perry-conversation-sarah-thornton (Accessed: 11 November 2019).
Identifying the type of information you are using as well as the source, are
essential skills of evaluation and developing a critical approach to
information. In many cases you will be unconsciously using your judgment to
assess the value of information for your purpose. So when you are using any
source of information, ask yourself what it is you are looking at, what details
are recorded about it and whether it measures up as a quality piece of
information. You’ll find more guidance about evaluating information on
There are lots of different referencing styles, but which one is right for you?
Once you start creating
citations and references, you need to consider referencing styles. There are hundreds of them out there
and each has a slightly different set of rules about how citations and
reference lists should appear in your text.
Most Newcastle University students use the Harvard at Newcastle style, but there is also Vancouver, IEEE, OSCOLA, Chicago, and many more. Your lecturers will expect you to use one specific style and all of your citations and references should conform to that style accurately and consistently; same punctuation, same capitalisation, same everything.
We have lots of help about using some of the popular referencing styles in our Managing Information guide. The Cite Them Right website is also a valuable online resource that will show you how to hit all of the right steps on your way to mastering an individual referencing style.
When walking in the snow we need the right footwear, and to keep warm, a scarf, hat, and gloves are also of great help. By doing so, we are adapting to the environment and using the right tools at the right time for the job at hand.
The same is true when adapting to academic writing where referencing is a key tool.
When you are writing a piece of work and you use someone else’s thoughts, words or ideas, you must reference them. But why do we talk about referencing so much at University, and why is it so important? Why should you bother spending time on ensuring that your references are consistent, accurate and correct?
It all comes down to why we reference in the first place:
To make your contribution clear by showing which words and ideas are yours, and which have come from your reading.
To acknowledge the work of others and to demonstrate how you have built on the knowledge that you’ve gained from your reading.
To ensure that the reader can follow up on your references for themselves.
To avoid being wrongly accused of plagiarism.
Watch our short video to find out a little more about why we should bother with referencing.
For those of you reading this that don’t know, the IEEE referencing style is a numeric citation system used in engineering, electronics, computer science and information technology publications. And for those of you reading that already know this, you will be pleased to hear that the IEEE referencing style has now been added to Cite them right (If you have trouble accessing Cite them right off campus, just search for it on Library Search).
So what does this mean and how does it help? Well, let’s say that you have referred to a set of specific technical standards in your most recent academic work but aren’t quite sure how to reference them accordingly. Open Cite them right and type standards into the search bar at the top right of the home page and hit the Enter key:
The search results will return a link detailing how to reference technical standards:
All that’s left to do now is to click on the link, select IEEE from the drop down reference style menu and follow the excellent guidance. There’s further help on IEEE referencing on the far right hand side:
As well as referencing technical standards, journal articles and books in the IEEE style, Cite them right will also show you how to reference more unusual items, such as Twitter posts and YouTube videos, enabling you to correctly include all of your research sources with ease.