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ELISE | Informing your studies tutorial: Referencing


Quiz question There may be a quiz question related to the information on this page.

Learn more study skills

Study hacks are a series of workshops for new and returning students throughout term. These sessions will help you develop key skills you need to succeed at UNSW.

Managing references

Tip  Learn more about storing and managing references:

  • EndNote
  • Zotero

Refer to the Managing References page, under the Organise tab.

Reference list or bibliography?

There is often confusion about the difference between a bibliography and a list of references.

Generally speaking, a bibliography contains all the works cited in an essay etc. but may also include other works the author consulted, but did not quote from or paraphrase.

A list of references, on the other hand, contains strictly works cited in the essay.

Tip  Some referencing styles have particular conventions, so be sure to check the rules for the style you are using.


Referencing is a method of acknowledging the sources you have used in your academic work. It is a way of ensuring that you maintain academic integrity in all of your written assignments and that you use the work of others in an ethical way. It also demonstrates your ability to synthesise the opinions of others.

Acknowledge any ideas or information which are not your own when:

  • quoting directly, or word for word
  • summarising or paraphrasing another person's work
  • using data such as statistics, images, diagrams, graphs, etc.

Sources of information you need to reference include:

  • books or chapters from books
  • articles from journals or newspapers, both print and online
  • films, television, podcasts or radio programs
  • emails, interviews or letters
  • blogs or wikis
  • works of art or music
  • websites

Academic Study Skills resources:

Tip  Learn more about citing electronic resources

Tip  Learn more about referencing

Your list of references, or bibliography, enables your lecturer to follow the steps you have taken in your research. In addition, your lecturer can verify your citations and confirm that you have not plagiarised the work of another person.

Plagiarism is the act of presenting another person's work or ideas as your own. Plagiarism is a serious breach of ethics at UNSW and is not taken lightly. Plagiarism is dealt with in more detail on the Plagiarism page of this tutorial.

Referencing styles

There are many different styles of referencing. The Current Students website provides information on a selection of referencing styles.

Two styles often used at UNSW are Harvard and APA (American Psychological Association). Your lecturer may advise you on your school’s preferred style.

See an example of the APA referencing style on the Understanding your course resources page, under the Discover tab.

The main features of Harvard and APA are:

  • in-text citations describing the sources you have quoted
  • a list of references at the end, acknowledging all the sources of information you have referred to in your work

Tip  For more referencing styles and information about how to use them, consult The University of Melbourne Library’s Re:cite referencing styles and the Citation style manuals page, under the Advanced research skills tab.