Support and study skills
Referencing your work
If you are using quotations, ideas or information from other people’s work in academic writing, you need to acknowledge the source. This is known as referencing or citing.
Most departments use Westminster Harvard style.
Download our Referencing your work: Using Westminster Harvard guide (PDF). This booklet shows how to cite and reference using examples.
Some departments use a different system. Remember to check your course handbook/guidelines so that you are familiar with exactly what referencing system your school or department requires.
Other styles in use at the University are:
- Architecture – Oxford
- Computing and Engineering – IEEE
- History – Oxford
- Law – OSCOLA
- Psychology - BPS
Why should I include references in my work?
You should include references in order to:
- acknowledge the work of others
- provide evidence of your own research
- illustrate a particular point
- support an argument or theory
- allow others to locate the resources you have used
- avoid accusations of plagiarism
It is important to record the details of the information you find, so that you have all the details needed to compile a bibliography or list of references for your essay.
When recording these details for your reference list, be systematic:
- For a simple solution, you could write your references on index cards.
- Most databases allow you to save your search results as a file or send them to your email account.
- You can use software such as RefWorks or EndNote to store and organise your references.
What is plagiarism?
Plagiarism involves taking the words or ideas of other people and presenting them as your own. It's an assessment offence that the University takes very seriously.
For more details on what plagiarism is and how to avoid it, visit our Plagiarism page.
An essential element of your academic writing will be to include references to the information, ideas and materials you have used.
The university currently supports Refworks and Endnote for students, which can help you to gather, store and manage your references, and use them to create bibliographies. You can find out more on our Refworks and Endnote page.
There is also a variety of ‘open-source’ referencing software to help you gather, store and manage your references. These are normally free, and allow you to collaborate and share your references with other users. These include:
A reference manager and academic social network. It allows you to create a fully-searchable library, cite as you write, and read and annotate your PDFs on some devices.
Reference management software to manage bibliographic data and related research materials that automatically senses content in your web browser, allowing you to add it to your own personal library with a single click.