Citing and referencing
In this section you will learn about taking information you have found in your research and using it in your writing. This section includes information about citing and referencing – what it is, why it is necessary and how to do it.
Referencing is a standardised way of acknowledging the ideas, opinions or theories of authors that you have included in your own work. There are many different referencing styles . We will describe here the APA (American Psychological Association) style, since it is one of the most widely used. You may choose or be asked to use any other style, but most important is to be consistent to the style of your choice throughout your assignment.
References need to be included in assignments because they enable people to find the source of your ideas for further reference. They also add weight to your argument by showing you have used – and acknowledged the use of – legitimate sources. If you do not include references, you may be accused of plagiarism. Your assignment must include both in-text citations and a reference list at the end of your work.
When you refer to another author's work in your work (either by direct quotation or paraphrasing), you must cite your source by providing the last name of the author and the year of publication in the body of your text.
You need to cite references to:
- Support your arguments and give your work a factual basis
- Protect yourself against charges of plagiarism
- Demonstrate to assessors or critics that you have carried out the necessary research
- Allow the reader to locate the material you consulted
Accuracy and completeness are important. Keep track of all your sources throughout your research process.
Cite your source when you:
- Refer to the ideas or theories of other people’s work in your assignments
Use this diagram to help you decide when you need to cite:
When you use another person’s idea – either directly or indirectly – in an assignment, it must be referenced correctly. There are strict rules on how to use and reference ideas and words from other sources. But, firstly, you must decide whether to use an idea as:
- a direct quote, or
- paraphrasing (to rewrite it using your own words).
Why and when to quote directly
Direct quotes should be used with care. You should only quote word for word if you believe it is already written in the ideal way to support your argument, if the person you are quoting is an authority on the topic, or if you cannot paraphrase without changing the author’s ideas.
How to cite a quotation
When you are quoting another person word for word, you should distinguish their words from your own writing. You must include the author surname, year of publication and page number containing the quote in parentheses after the quotation. Enclose the writer's words in double "quotation marks" within your sentence:
Key causes of economic deprivation include low income or unemployment which are often the result of "poor qualification levels and lack of basic skills" (Thake & Saubach, 1993, p. 18).
“Children build a storehouse of words from hearing books read aloud; they draw upon these words and their meanings when they read and write on their own” (Cullinan & Smith, 2000, p.28).
You may include the author surname followed by the year of publication in a signal phrase. In this case the page number will still be included in parentheses after the quotation:
According to Thake and Saubach (1993), key causes of economic deprivation include low income or unemploymnet which are often the result of “poor qualification levels and lack of basic skills” (p. 18).
What is paraphrasing?
- Paraphrasing is re-writing the ideas from a piece of text into your own words without changing the meaning.
- You still need to acknowledge the original source of the ideas.
Why and when to paraphrase
- You demonstrate your own understanding of the information.
- You avoid plagiarism. (Plagiarism is when you use someone else’s ideas or words without acknowledging where you got them from.)
You should paraphrase if you think the idea is more important than the way it is worded. If you think that you could phrase the words more clearly or if you want to contain them within your own line of thinking, you should paraphrase. Paraphrasing shows that you are able to understand the material and use it to support your argument.
How to paraphrase
- Read the text – until you understand it well. (Find out the meaning of any unknown words or terms.)
- Ask yourself: “What are the main points of this text?” The first sentence of a paragraph (often called a topic sentence) will usually introduce the main idea of that paragraph, and will guide you to other key points.
- Say the main points out loud to yourself or write down keywords. This helps you be clear about what the text is about.
- Write down those main points in sentences. Tip: Do not look at the original text when you do this, or you will be tempted to copy their words. Write the information down in the way it makes sense for you, as if you were explaining it to someone else. You do not need to put it in the same order as it was in the original, but make sure the information is in a logical sequence.
- Now compare your paraphrase with the original to make sure you have not missed important points.
- Check you have used your words and your way of expressing ideas or information (not just changed their words around or just moved their words or sentences into a different order).
- Also check you have expressed the key information accurately (check you have not misrepresented the author’s ideas).
- Acknowledge the original author(s) in your paraphrase, and record the full details of the information source for your reference list.
How to cite a paraphrase
If you include the author's last name in your sentence, write the date in brackets immediately afterwards:
According to Sternberg (2001), the behaviourist approach was criticised for undervaluing the importance of studying cognition, leading to the rise of the cognitivist movement.
Coon (1994) states that any hypothesis needs to be clear and testable.
Alternatively, write both the author's last name and the date of publication in brackets after you have finished the paraphrase:
The behaviourist approach was criticised for undervaluing the importance of cognition. This led to the rise of the cognitivist movement (Sternberg, 2001).
An hypothesis needs to be clear and testable (Coon, 1994).
Note that you do not have to specify the page number when paraphrasing. You do not need to repeat the date if you refer to the same author again in the same paragraph but if you mention information from this source again later on in your work you will need to repeat the full citation.
If you are citing two or more different works by the same author, you only need to mention their name once followed by the years of publication: (Gattis, 2002, 2004)
What is a reference list?
A reference list is a list of all sources you have cited in-text, listed in alphabetical order by the first author’s last name, with a full description of each source. Remember to be consistent to the style of your choice. At the end of your work, under the heading References, write a full description of each source you have cited, listing them in alphabetical order by the first author's last name.
Reference list example (in APA style):
Shanks, D. R. (1985). Continuous monitoring of human contingency judgment across trials. Memory & Cognition, 13, 158-167.
Shanks, D., & Dickinson, A. (1987). Associative accounts of causality judgment. In G. Bower (Ed.), The psychology of learning and motivation (Vol. 21, pp. 229-261). San Diego, CA: Academic Press.
Wasserman, E. A., Elek, S. M., Chatlosh, D. L., & Baker, A. G. (1993). Rating causal relations: Role of probability in judgments of response-outcome contingency. Journal of Experimental Psychology: Learning, Memory, and Cognition, 19, 174-188.
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How to write a reference list in APA style
APA (American Psychological Association) style (6th Edition) is the referencing style usually used at Otago Polytechnic. There are several other styles and these are sometimes used for specific disciplines.
It is important that every source cited within your writing is correctly listed at the end of your assignment. The list should be in alphabetical order based on the first author’s surname. In addition, the list has a hanging indent. If you look at the example above, you will see that for each reference the first line is at the margin of the page while the other lines are moved in slightly to the right.
How you reference each source depends on the type of material you have used. For example, the reference for a webpage requires a different format from that of a journal. There are very specific rules for adding references and these must be followed exactly.
As the formatting varies depending on the number of authors, source format (chapter in a book, edited book with no authors, dissertation, conference proceedings, etc.) and other details, please see examples below:
Reference list examples
Rules and examples for reference list items.
Author. (Year of publication). Book title in italics and lower case. Place of publication: Publisher
Ferguson, G. (2004). You'll be a man if you play rugby: Sport and the construction of gender. Palmerston North, NZ: Dunmore Press
Variations on the book reference:• Multiple authors: use a comma or & to separate the names
E.g. Dockett, S., & Fleer, M. (2003)... OR ... Brown, R., Cale, G., & Smith, A. (1998)...• An editor instead of an author: use (Ed.) for one editor and (Eds.) for multiple editors
Parry, J. (Ed.). (1991). Building a home: A matter of lifestyle and comfort. Sydney, Australia: Picnic Press.• The edition of a book (4th ed.) is entered after the title
Parry, J. (Ed). (1991). Building a home: A matter of lifestyle and comfort (2nd ed.). Sydney, Australia: Picnic Press• If there is no author, the first item is the book title and the reference looks like this:
Merrian-Webster’s collegiate dictionary (11th ed.). (2004). Springfield, MA: Merrian-Webster.
This reference type is only necessary for edited books where the chapters tend to be written by different people.
Author of chapter. (Year of publication). Chapter title. In Book editors: are in a different order (Eds.). Book title in italics (Chapter pages). Place of publication: Publisher.
McAloon, L. (2003). Scots in the colonial economy. In T. Brooking & J. Coleman (Eds.). The heather and the fern; Scottish migration & New Zealand settlement (pp. 87-102). Dunedin, New Zealand: University of Otago Press.
Don't forget the 'In'.
Similar to a book chapter but replace the publishing details with where you access the chapter.
Author of chapter. (Year of publication). Chapter title. In Book editors: are in a different order (Eds.). Book title in italics(Chapter pages). Retrieved from URL OR doi number:
Lisle, D. (2010). Joyless cosmopolitans: The moral economy of ethical tourism. In J. Best & M. Paterson (Eds.), Cultural political economy (pp. 139-157). Retrieved from http://reader.eblib.com.au OR doi: 10.1080/11026480510011334
Article authors. (Year of publication). Title of journal article. Journal title in italics, Volume number in italics (issue number in brackets), page numbers.
Zoffmann, V., Harer, I., & Kirkvold, M. (2008). A person-centered communication and reflection model: Sharing decision-making in chronic care. Qualitative Health Research, 18(5), 670-685.
Similar to a journal but add the doi number, if it has one, or where you retrieved the article from (e.g. the database name) at the end of the reference.
Article authors. (Year of publication). Title of journal article.Journal title in italics, Volume number in italics (issue number in brackets), page numbers. doi number: OR Retrieved from:
Example:Lorentsen, N., & Bergstad, I. (2005). Diet, self-management and metabolic control in Norwegian teenagers with type 1 diabetes. Scandinavian Journal of Nutrition, 49(1), 27-37. doi: 10.1080/11026480510011334 OR Retrieved from: ProQuest Central.
Article author. (Year of publication, and day of publication). Title of article. Title of publication in italics, volume in italics, Page numbers.
Cork, R. (2003, August 4). The killing fields. New Statesman, 16, p.27.
A 'p' is used if the article is only one page long; otherwise include the page range.
Author of website. (Year of publication, if any). Name of webpage, not in italics. Retrieved from: address
Kearsley, G. (n.d.). Experiential learning. Retrieved from http://tip.psychology.org/
The author of the webpage could also be a corporate name (e.g. Ministry of Justice). If there is no author, begin with the title, then date, then URL. Use n.d. if there is no date.
There is no need to include an access date unless the web page is likely to change over time (e.g. a wiki or a blog).
Name of artist. (Artist). (Date of artwork). Name of artwork [Type of artwork]. Place artwork is held: Name of Museum or Art Gallery.
Van Gogh, V. (Artist). (1888). Entrance to the public gardens in Arles [Painting]. New York: Metropolitan Museum of Art.
Name of Producer (Producer), & Name of Director (Director). (Year). Name of film/documentary [Type of film]. Place released: Company that released it.
Smithson, J. (Producer), & Macdonald, K. (Director). (2004). Touching the void [Motion picture]. Australia: Hopscotch.
Name of Producer (Producer). (Year). Name of television programme [Type of programme]. Place released: Company that released it.
Kelleher-Smith, D. (Producer). (2005). Dancing with the stars [Television series]. New Zealand: TVNZ.
Video/audio producer (Date video/Audio uploaded). Name of video/audio file [Type of video/audio] Retrieved from URL address
TEDtalksDirector (2012, June 20). Ivan Oranksy: Are we over-medicalized? [Video file]. Retrieved from http://www.youtube.com/user/tedtalksdirector?feature=results_main
Zotero and Mendeley
Zotero and Mendeley are free to download. These programs are available to assist you in writing references in the APA or many other styles correctly. You can automatically add citations and create a list of references in your Word documents.
Cite This For Me
Cite This For Me is free online software where you can add (manually or automatically) your sources, choose your citation style and download your formatted reference list.
You can also use Microsoft Word as a referencing tool.
- Keep track of everything you consult while you research your piece of work.
- Note down all the details before you start taking notes - you will need to reference each source in full.
- Write down the page numbers of any quotes you note.
- If you are unsure about the date or place of publication, check the library catalogue.
- Make sure you follow the APA style carefully and accurately. Use the model examples in this tutorial to help you.
Using information contained in the references, choose the correct answer.Activity
Use the following activity to hone your knowledge of paraphrasing; what is acceptable and what is plagiarism.
Identifying acceptable paraphrases
Read and then decide if a paraphrase is acceptable.Activity