Why do I Need to Reference?

Although providing sources and references is often an uninteresting task, it is a vital one.

Here are several reasons why referencing other’s work is important:

  • To indicate where the information in your written work came from.
  • To acknowledge the contribution someone else’s work has made to what you have written. If you do not, you are implicitly claiming (whether you mean to or not) that the ideas you are writing are entirely your own. This is plagiarism and is extremely serious. There is almost no academic work that is not built on others’ work – we are all ‘standing on the shoulders’ of others, in that respect. In your assignments, you will draw heavily on the work of others and you need to get into the habit of referencing as soon as possible.
  • Differentiate between your work is and what the work of others. This allows the instructor to see what you have read, what sources you have used, what aspects of the course materials you have drawn on and which non-course materials you have used
  • To identify which are your ideas
  • To demonstrate how the arguments you are making are supported by other people.

If you do not reference you are:

  • Claiming work is your own when it is not (plagiarism).
  • Failing to show the extent of your studying.
  • Failing to identify your work to your instructor.

If you reference correctly you are:

  • Avoiding possible charges of plagiarism.
  • Showing what you have studied and contributed to a research area.
  • Enabling your instructor to assess your understanding, analysis and ideas, to award accurate marks and to give you feedback.
« Back to Student SuccessLast updated November 21, 2019