A reference consists of the information about the original source that is required in order for the reader to easily find that source. Different branches of learning tend to prefer particular referencing systems. Each system indicates how to use citations in the text and how to make a reference list. Ask your teacher which system to use if you are unsure. The most important thing is that your use of references is accurate and consistent.
Below you will find guides to some of the most common referencing systems.
Harvard referencing is probably the most common referencing system and is used within a number of different disciplines. Harvard referencing is not one uniform system but comes in different variations.
The Oxford style of referencing, or the footnote system, is used in history, law and theology, along with other subjects that use many unpublished sources.
Plagiarism means presenting someone else's work as your own (a text, a chart, a program, a picture, etc.). Also so-called self-plagiarism is plagiarism.
Refero is an anti-plagiarism guide. It contains information on plagiarism and how to avoid it.
Plagiarism can include:
- Using someone else's text as your own without citing the source.
- Using someone else's text as your own but with insignificant changes (for example changing a few words or changing the word order).
- Copying phrases, sentences or paragraphs from the source word-by-word, without citing the source (the so-called copy-paste method).
- Only making minor changes to the text, and citing the source (that is, being too close to the original wording of the source).
- Self-plagiarism. That is, using your own previous work as if it was new, without stating that the material has already been presented in one of your earlier academic texts.
Citations and references
When you use information from a source you must always indicate it with a citation. This can be done in different ways depending on which referencing system you are using. The most important thing is that it is always made clear what parts of the text are your own argumentations or results, and what parts derive from a source. You must make both in-text citations and a reference list at the end of your work.
- that your citations are written in accordance with your chosen referencing system.
- that your reference list is complete and without mistakes
Sometimes you may use quotations. This means writing down a certain passage from your source, word-by-word, placing it within quotation marks, and citing the source.
- that your quotations are transcribed correctly.
- that your quotations are cited correctly and include a page reference
When rephrasing information from a source it is important not to be too close to the original text. Changing a few words with synonyms or changing the word order is not enough. If you do that, you can be accused of plagiarism. Instead, you should try to be as detached as possible from the source, and use your own words. This is called paraphrasing, which means that you use your own words to express your understanding of the contents of the original source.
- that your text is not too close to the original source.
- that you have cited the source.
Reference management software
Zotero is a free-to-use reference manager. The program has a wide number of features such as web browser integration, online synchronization, easy generation of text quotes, footnotes and bibliographies, shared reference libraries and integration with word processors.
Zotero - contact person
EndNote Basic is a free reference manager that we recommend to students at Linnaeus University. With EndNote Basic you can save and search your references as well as easily create in-text citations and reference lists, according to the referencing system of your choice.
Watch a quick tutorial on EndNote Basic (Purdue Libraries).