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Introduction to Referencing

Referencing by RCSI Library - Video summarises the below text information 

Referencing is a standardised way to acknowledge the sources you have used in your work, like information from websites, reports, books or journal articles. There are many different referencing systems, and the referencing systems used at RCSI are outlined on this guide.

Importantly, all referencing systems have the same goal: giving credit to another author and the prevention of plagiarism.

Why Reference?

A chart showing the reasons to reference: 1 Credit the author 2 Demonstrate Research 3 Avoid Plagiarism 4 Support your ideas


Referencing is a mandatory requirement for essays and projects at RCSI.

By referencing correctly you will credit another author's original ideas and/or work and thus, avoid plagiarism, which can be considered academic misconduct and is to be avoided. Referencing also tracks the source of any information used. 

Referencing helps demonstrate the research and reading you have undertaken. 

In general, proper referencing supports academic integrity across the institute. Academic integrity is based on the principles of honesty, trust, fairness, respect and responsibility - QQI

Glossary Terms Explained

Most referencing styles contain the same basic types of information about a source. These are the bibliographic details or bibliographic elements. The exact details required will depend on the type of source and the referencing style.

Examples of required bibliographic details:

  1. Journal articles: author(s), publication year, article title, journal title, volume, issue, page number(s), Digital Object Identifier (DOI) or URL
  2. Book: author(s)/editor(s), publication year, book title, place of publication, publisher
  3. Web page: author(s)/editor(s)/name of organisation, date page was last updated, title of page, date page was accessed, URL

Sources are the books, articles, reports and other material that you consult to write your paper.

Documenting involves acknowledging the sources you have used by providing full bibliographic details.

A citation is the source in the body of the paper (a number or author and date). The citation is linked to a corresponding reference. 

References are the list of sources at the end of your document. A reference should give full bibliographic details to the guide the reader to the original source.

A direct quote is when you use the exact words from an original source.

  • Short quotes: you may use quotation marks (" ") and merge with the rest of your text.
  • Longer quotes: May appear as an indented paragraph.

A quote must be followed by a citation. The citation is connected to a reference at the end of your paper.

Paraphrasing is when you use someone else's ideas in your own words. Each paraphrase should include a citation.

Steps to effective paraphrasing (link to Purdue Online Writing Lab)

Further Resources

To complete an interactive lesson and useful overview of referencing, plagiarism and its key ideas, follow the below link:

ALL Aboard - Digital Skills in Higher Education - Referencing 

All Aboard is a national project that aims to empower learners, teachers, and anyone who uses technology to support their work, their study, or other aspects of living in a digital age. Good luck!

Learners and researchers can apply the RADAR framework when evaluating and assessing information. RADAR will help you ask the right questions. Choosing the most suitable and reliable information to include in your writing and project work, and thus reference, is an important part of your academic journey. 

RADAR: Rationale, Authority, Date, Accuracy, Relevance