Referencing – why is it so important?

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.

Find out more on our Managing Information skills guide.

Finding Information: Types of Information

Light bulbs

In our previous blog we explored how looking for information in the right place can help save you time and effort.  However, sometimes, the right place to look can depend on what type of information you’re looking for.

While you’re probably familiar with books and you may have been introduced to journal articles, these are just two of the types of academic information available to you.  Depending on your research question or essay title you might also find it useful to explore, for example, conference proceedings, maps, company information or newspapers

Each type of information has its particular use; books provide an in-depth overview of a topic; journal articles are more specialised and focus in-depth on a particular area of a topic, and newspapers give you a useful perspective on events.  While Library Search can help you find a large range of information types, some types of information are only available in special databases or archives.  Before you start your search, it’s therefore important that you decide what types of information you will need to complete your assignment most effectively.  You can find out more about different information types on our Finding Information Guide and in the video below:

When you know which types of information you need for your assignment or project take a look at our Resource Guides, which provide useful links and guides to appropriate sources.

Finding Information: Knowing Where to Look

Photograph of several closed doors, one painted yellow the others painted white.

When you’re looking for information to help you write your essays, assignments or projects it can be tempting to turn to the source of information you use every day – Google.  While Google can be useful in some ways (such as finding company websites or journal author’s profiles), it wasn’t exclusively designed to help you find good quality, academic information that is reliable and relevant.  This means you’ll likely have to spend more of your time wading through huge amounts of information and fact-checking resources for accuracy.

Thankfully, Google isn’t your only option – there are a number of different places to look that have been created with the aim of providing you with the information that you need, such as your reading lists, Library Search, and key Subject Databases.

Take a look at this video to find out more about how these sources can help you:

For more help on finding information, take a look at our Finding Information Guide.

Three Steps to Getting the Most from EndNote

Someone walking up metal staircase

If you’re writing a detailed essay, dissertation or thesis, reference management software such as EndNote can save you a lot of time and effort but only so long as you put in some time and effort to learn how it works first.

So let us help you get a head start with these three steps:

Step 1: Getting set up & practising the basics

Use our online workbook to get off on the right foot with EndNote; it will guide you through setting up your EndNote Library, adding references and using EndNote with Word.

You can watch this handy video from Clarivate for a visual demonstration too:

Step 2: Organisation from chaos

You’ve probably got a lot of records in your Library now so it’s time to get organised!  Take a look at these short guides and build up your EndNote expertise:

These tools will help you keep all your information together and make it easily accessible for step three…

Step 3: Now for the real magic

Now you’ve collected and organised your references, it’s time to put them to work for you using Cite While You Write in Word.  Watch this video from Clarivate to see how it’s done:

Some EndNote Extras

Keen to learn even more? Take a look at the EndNote Extras section of our EndNote Guide to find out how to merge documents and reference lists, how to share your Library with colleagues or how to find the full text PDF of an article from your EndNote Library.

Outside the Box

While the University has a subscription to EndNote and the Library offer some support to help you use it, there are other reference management software tools available.  Take a look at this FAQ to see some comparison charts that can help you decide which tool might be best for you!

Mobile Apps & Resources Guide

Collage of mobile app icons

Our mobile devices are great for helping us to stay in touch with friends and family, keeping us up-to-date with the latest trends and news on social media and, of course, for sharing cat videos.

However, your mobile device can also be a great tool for learning and study, if you’ve got the right apps!

With recommendations from students in SNES, (who have been using tablets on their course for the past year) our updated Mobile Apps and Resources Guide provides a host of freely available apps and mobile friendly resources that can help you get the most from your device. It includes apps for study and productivity, creativity and design, history, languages, business, science and more.

Screenshot of the Mobile Apps Guide page

So whether you’re just getting set up with your tablet or an old hand looking for something new to help keep you organised with your work or up-to-date in your subject area, our guide has something to help.

Some highlights include:

Microsoft Office Lens – this app helps you make documents or pictures of whiteboards screen readable. You can also use Office Lens to convert images to PDF, Word and PowerPoint files.

Pocket – allows you to save articles, videos and stories from any publication, page or app to read at a later time.

Trello  – a useful tool that helps you to organize and prioritize your projects using boards, lists and cards.

BrowZine –  a tool that allows you to access and keep up to date with key journal titles that the Library subscribes to in your subject area.

If you have any further suggestions for useful apps that we could add to the guide, let us know at: lib-sage@ncl.ac.uk