What is referencing?
In academic work, we acknowledge other people’s ideas by citing their work using an in-text reference and an entry in a reference list.
You need to cite or reference other people’s work whether you paraphrase it or quote it directly.
For an introductory guide to citation, referencing and academic writing, see QUT cite|write.
Why do you need to reference sources of ideas?
It is important to acknowledge the source of ideas that you use to support your argument because it:
- gives appropriate credit to the people whose ideas you are using
- maintains academic integrity by honestly representing your work
- shows the depth and quality of your research
- establishes the academic foundation on which your work is built.
If you don’t reference appropriately, you may breach the principles of academic integrity and you may be penalised.
How to reference in academic work
You should use the APA style for all referencing in formal academic work
Tools to help you with APA referencing:
If you’re referencing something unusual or have a tricky question, try:
How to reference in blog posts
In a blog post, you ‘cite’ someone else’s ideas (paraphrased) or words (quotes) by using contextual linking. We do this to give credit to other people’s ideas and also to lend credibility to our own work by establishing the foundation of our work.
Paraphrased: In her 2009 post, Jones argues that the cat always sat on the mat and that therefore, this was nothing new. (Where the underlined words are a hyperlink to the original post.)
Quoted: In her 2009 post, Jones suggests that ‘this isn’t a new phenomenon. That cat has always sat squarely in the middle of the mat’. (Where the underlined words are a hyperlink to the original post.)
Comparatively, if you were using APA in a formal academic piece of work, you would do this:
Paraphrased: Jones (2009) argues that the cat always sat on the mat and that therefore, this was nothing new.
Quoted: Jones suggests that ‘this isn’t a new phenomenon. That cat has always sat squarely in the middle of the mat’ (Jones, 2009, p. 44).
Linking to academic articles or books
When you cite an academic article or a book, there are a number of places you could link to in order to credit the source. We’ve written a short guide on finding an appropriate URL to use for the citation.
Attribution, copyright and Creative Commons
What is attribution?
Attribution acknowledges the creator or copyright holder of a work that you are reproducing or redistributing as a whole.
For example, if you want to add someone else’s image (which is a whole work in itself) to your assignment, you must make sure you have appropriate permission and attribute it correctly.
Appropriate permission may be:
- the explicit permission of the copyright holder
- a Creative Commons (CC) licence that allows reuse.
Why do you need to attribute works you reproduce?
Attributing other people’s work correctly is important because it:
- gives appropriate credit to the people whose work you are reproducing
- maintains academic integrity by honestly representing your work.
If you don’t have appropriate permission to reproduce a work or if you don’t attribute it correctly, you may infringe copyright, which may have legal consequences.
What is Creative Commons licensing?
Creative Commons licenses allow content producers to share their work with others. The licenses provide a standardised way for content owners to indicate the conditions under which people may reuse or redistribute their content without infringing copyright. The licences allow users to reuse, remix and share the content legally.
Where to find Creative Commons licensed material
CC Search is an aggregated search of common sources of Creative Commons licensed materials.
You can also just try a Google search for something like ‘how to find creative commons licensed images’ (obvious but effective!).
Sites our teaching staff use include:
- Unsplash for photos
- Flickr for photos (search Flickr, and then choose Creative Commons only from the Licenses dropdown menu to refine your results)
- The Noun Project for icons.
How to attribute Creative Commons licensed material
The CC Wiki provides advice and examples of best practices for Creative Commons attribution.