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Referencing & Plagiarism: Referencing

What is a reference?

Referencing is the process of identifying the sources you have used when researching your work. Referencing provides the answers to several questions for your reader:  

  • Who wrote it? 
  • When was it published?          
  • What is the title?         
  • Where did you find it?  

Different courses use different kinds of referencing styles, but all include a shorter and a longer reference. Shorter references can be in-text citations, which are written into the essay in brackets, such as Harvard or APA. Shorter references could also be numeric citations like footnotes or endnotes, which are marked by numbers within the essay, as used in MHRA, OSCOLA, Vancouver and MLA. Longer references, found at the end of an essay, can be found in a reference list or a bibliography, or both.  

It is important to view the citations or footnotes and the reference list or bibliography as a matching pair – whatever you reference within the body of the essay needs to match a full reference at the end of the essay. 

Why, When, How

There are different referencing styles, and each course uses one specific version. At school you may have used a simplified version of referencing, even just stating the page where you found a quotation. This is because the texts you were expected to use were limited and used by everyone. At university the necessary information for referencing is more specific and detailed. This is because you are expected to find your own texts and need to clearly explain to your tutor what they are and where you found them. 

Referencing explains where you found the information you have used as evidence in your writing. Before university you may have used sources to support the points you wanted to make. At university level, sources are used to extend and challenge your ideas through critical writing

Referencing shows that you have: 

  • Engaged with the ideas and words of other people, and the scope of your independent research; 
  • Linked your ideas to existing knowledge, giving authority to how you construct your arguments; 
  • Shared your research process in a way others can find the original source; 
  • Been accurate in your attention to detail, showing how you can follow academic convention; 
  • Credited the authors and work you have consulted. 

Referencing shows that you have used quality sources which give your argument credibility and demonstrate your understanding of the topic. Through referencing it is clear how existing work has informed your ideas, while crediting those sources. 

Most instances of plagiarism can be solved by referencing every time you use an idea or piece of information from another person or organisation, and every time you make a claim. You will use sources through direct quotations, paraphrasing, and summaries

Examples of when you may need to reference include: 

  • Another person’s ideas, words, opinions. 
  • Any facts, graphs, drawings - any kind of information that you have learned. 
  • Quotations - another person’s spoken or written words. 
  • Paraphrasing and summarising - describing in your own words another person's words or ideas. 

Different referencing styles use different formats, so it’s important that you understand the rules of the style you will be using. Cite Them Right is a referencing guide with examples to help you confidently acknowledge the work of others. There is both a Cite Them Right book and a website which can be used to look up the correct referencing conventions for the sources you intend to use within your work. With some referencing styles, the specific handbook may be better, so make sure you look at the further guidance for individual referencing styles. 

When using make sure that you sign in ‘via your institution’, the University of Suffolk, before selecting your referencing style. This means that the referencing guidance is specific to the University of Suffolk. 

On, sign in through the University of Suffolk. Select your referencing style and choose the kind of source you want to reference (use the plus sign for more options). There will be examples on the left, and a box on the right which shows you how your long reference should be laid out. 

There are often options for automatic referencing tools, like “cite this”. These will often give you the right information, but you still need to check that you place it in the correct order with the correct punctuation. 

Where to reference

In-text citations are a part of your sentence, so place it inside the full stop, but the sentence needs to make sense without the citation. Use the source name outside the brackets if you need it for your sentence to be understood:  

‘As Dorling (2015) makes clear’ 


‘As (Dorling, 2015) makes clear’. 

When using in-text citations, if you mention the source name in your sentence, you do not need to repeat it in the reference.  


Here are some examples of the different ways you can use in-text citations within your sentences, each giving a different emphasis to the source material. 

Example 1: An absence of justice can stem from certain ‘beliefs’ around ideas of power (Dorling, 2015, p.3). 

This emphasises the information. 

Example 2: Power and justice are linked in ways which are hard to challenge: ‘beliefs provide false justification’ (Dorling, 2015, p.3). 

This strongly emphasises the information. 

Example 3: Dorling believes that it is important to consider how ‘beliefs provide false justification’ for assumptions around power (2015, p.3). 

This emphasises the author. 

Numeric citations use a superscript number to explain to the reader which reference applies to which statement. The citation is not a part of your sentence in the same way as in-text citations.  


'As Dorling1 makes clear'


1 This is where you would place your short reference. If it’s a footnote it will appear at the end of the page. If it’s an endnote it will appear at the end of the essay. 

  • Use p. for one page, p.34, and pp. for a page range, pp.34-36. 
  • Direct quotations and in-text citations are included in your word count. Your reference list or bibliography is not included in the word count. 
  • Initials and first names are not used in in-text citations. 
  • Commas are needed after surname and year. 
  • To differentiate sources with the same author and date, use lower case letters (in alphabetical order) after the publication date.
    • Example Department of Health (2014a), Department of Health (2014b) etc. 
  • Use the phrase ‘quoted in’ if the author of the secondary source is directly quoting another author. 
    • Example Burnard (2009, quoted in Murray, 2013, p. 82) argues that health professionals dismiss this. 
  • Use the phrase ‘cited in’ if the author of the secondary source is paraphrasing or summarising from the primary source. 
    • Example Health professionals dismiss the idea that all humans may be cloned (Burnard, 2009, cited in Murray, 2013, p. 82). 
    • In this example, the book by Murray should be included in the reference list because you have read it. Do not include the work by Burnard because you have not read it. 

Further Reading