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Research Skills: Referencing and plagiarism

A guide to help you improve your research skills: make the most of your time to find and retrieve the information you need.

Overview - Managing Information: Referencing & Plagiarism

This guide provides support for students, supervisors, authors and teaching staff around referencing and plagiarism. It covers:

  1. Guidance for students: An overview of the importance citing your references, alongside guides and resources for students to help with referencing in your work.
  2. Guidance for Supervisors: A brief overview of the expectations on academic tutors and doctoral supervisors.
  3. Guidance for publishing: A brief overview for authors covering guidance from publishers on ethical practice and plagiarism.

Referencing & Plagiarism

Understanding Referencing: Basic Principles

To find useful sources of information for your work it is important to be able to interpret references correctly. Knowing the difference between a reference to a book chapter or one for a journal article can save you time in getting straight to the resource you need. Cite Them Right Online is an essential guide to referencing which explains the basics of how to reference not just books and journal articles but also online resources, newspaper articles, reports, and more.There are also plenty of examples of different citation styles included e.g. author/date systems such as Harvard and numerical systems such as Vancouver.


Why cite references?

  • it is important to acknowledge the resources created by other people which you refer to or use in order to complete your assignments or research. These resources can include books, journal articles, web pages, newspaper articles, lectures, images, etc.
  • it is a very serious academic offence (known as plagiarism) to pretend that someone else's work has been created by you. This applies even if you copy just a few sentences. Learning to cite references correctly will help to ensure that you do not commit plagiarism by accident.

Basic Terms

  • Reference - details of any item (e.g. book, chapter, video, web page, article) used as a source which enables that source to be found by someone else.
  • Bibliography - a list of references at the end of a document e.g. essay, thesis, journal article.
  • Citation - brief details about a reference given in the text of a document e.g. (author:date)
  • Style - the exact way in which references and citations are laid out. There are many different styles e.g. Harvard, British Standard (Numeric), Author/Date, Vancouver. Find out which style is preferred by your Department or lecturer and use it consistently in your work.

Guidance for supervisors of research students

We have attempted to collect below guidance for supervisory teams around supporting research students around an awareness of plagiarism, and managing suspected cases of plagiarism. Please note that your department may have additional, or specific guidance or procedures to follow


At the beginning of a Research Project

Learning and Teaching Handbook: Section 8.1.4

"8. The departmental Induction programme should include: ... plagiarism;"

Learning and Teaching Handbook: Section 8.5.2

"2.f. draw the student's attention to plagiarism awareness training available within the University, and to the nature, unacceptability and consequences of plagiarism."


During the Research Project

Learning and Teaching Handbook: Section 8.5.2

"Regarding Personal & Skills Development, the supervisory team are responsible for:

9. giving guidance on matters including: the nature of research; the standard expected at the level of study; attendance at generic Doctoral Training Programme or other relevant classes; requisite techniques and methods of work; the presentation of data, footnotes and bibliography; the issue of plagiarism; and other ethical and legal issues as appropriate (e.g. copyright, Data Protection);"


Useful information

In addition to any department specific guidance, training and procedures, please refer to the following:

To provide guidance to students on tools to help them manage their references, and to help them create bibliographies to a recognised referencing style:

Guidance for Publishing

It is worth being aware that most publishers will regularly use plagiarism detection software to verify the originality of papers which are submitted to their journals. Most major publishers are members of Crossref's "similarity Check" service, which uses iThenticate to check against a database of over 155 million content items, including 49 million published academic works.

It is also worth highlighting that many publishers will not accept, or may subsequently retract articles which have been simultaneously, submitted to multiple journals for consideration for publication. They may also take similar action if an author is found to have submitted articles which are deemed to similar to previous articles published. This activity may result in "duplicate" or "redundant" publications, or be seen as "self-plagiarism."

Below are some examples of major publisher's policies and guidance around plagiarism:

Cite them Right Online

Cite them Right

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