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Academic Integrity Toolkit

The tools you need to help you succeed in university study

Using references

Referencing is the academic practice you use to show the source of things learnt in your research. By referring to these sources in your writing, you support your understanding of a topic, and give authority to your work.

Using references correctly is one way that you demonstrate that you can work academically: that is, meticulously and rigorously. To do this, you must make sure that you know: what style of referencing to use for your discipline; how to format your citations correctly; when to include a reference to your research.

Your writing will be more accomplished if you can use a variety of ways to refer to sources: not just direct quotes. Here are some examples of different ways that you can do this, using Harvard style. 
 

Original text

The development and growth of universities in the nineteenth century in Europe and the USA resulted in the mass examination of student knowledge by way of essays and examinations. There was a rigorous testing of knowledge and, as part of this, students were expected to cite the sources of ideas and offer detailed analysis and interpretation of sources. Citing and analysing the works of authors became a way for students to demonstrate their scholarly engagement with a text.

Neville, Colin (2010). The Complete Guide to Referencing and Avoiding Plagiarism 2nd ed. Maidenhead; Open University Press, 13. 

 

Paraphrasing

By paraphrasing you take an idea that you originally found in a source and explain it in your own words. It can help to show your reader that you have understood your reading.

Neville (2010, 13) notes that referencing first became important with the growth of European and American universities in the nineteenth century. 

 

Direct quotes

Only use a direct quote if it is essential to use the exact words found in the source or (especially for long quotes) if you are going to analyse the quote in depth. If your quote has 40 words or more: indent and single space it; do not use quotation marks; add the citation on a separate line at the end, unless it has already been given in an introductory phrase. 

The “rigorous testing of knowledge” introduced in the developing universities of the nineteenth century was a key factor in the growth of referencing as an academic practice. (Neville, 2010, 13.)

Neville (2010, 13) has argued that it was in this period that “Citing and analysing the works of authors became a way for students to demonstrate their scholarly engagement with a text.” 

 

Direct and indirect mentions

You may want to refer to the larger ideas or overall work described in a source rather than specific notions. You can do this directly (by name) or indirectly.

In Neville (2010), the importance of understanding the purpose of referencing is emphasised throughout. 

Some writers have emphasised the importance of understanding the purpose of referencing. (Neville, 2010; Sinfield and Burns, 2012.)

How to paraphrase

A paraphrase rephrases a specific sentence or set of sentences in your own words. It is a good way to show your marker that you have understood your reading.

1. Read the whole paragraph to get the full context.

'An alternative way of monitoring how much you work is to measure what you achieve rather than how long it takes you to do. Depending on the task you could measure the amount of words you write or the number of questions that you answer for example. Set yourself a target - perhaps of writing 500 words per session - and make this a minimum target, regardless of how long it takes you to do. This method has that inbuilt incentive for you to finish the work as soon as possible. If you finish the work quickly then the rest of the day/evening or weekend if your own to do what you like with it. You will need to build in time to review the quality of the work if you decide to organize your study periods entirely by timescales. Finally, you might want to use reverse psychology to motivate yourself to get the work done. Instead of saying that working for 3 hours or writing 500 words is your minimum, you might want to make it your maximum. So by saying that you will not allow yourself to write more than 500 words or that you will not work for more than 3 hours you make yourself regard the work as a treat rather than a chore.'

2. Without looking at the original, write your understanding of what you’ve read. Then check to make sure you’ve got it right.

Hoult argues that setting targets for achievement can be an effective way of managing study time, and may encourage task completion.

3. Don’t forget to make a note of the bibliographic details for your references.

Hoult, E. (2006). Learning Support for Mature Students. London: Sage, 62.

Tips for better paraphrasing

Students often find paraphrasing difficult because they are worried about plagiarism, but can’t see how to phrase ideas better than the original author did. These tips can help:

  • Never try to read and paraphrase a single sentence at a time – always read the whole paragraph first.
  • If there’s a key word or short phrase that you can’t paraphrase, integrate it into your sentence as a mini-quote.
  • Keep the purpose of your writing in mind. The original author will have been writing for a different purpose – so the words may be perfect for that but not for what you want to say. 

 

 This screencast will give you further guidance on paraphrasing

Read the script for the video (PDF)

Can you paraphrase these resources?

Read a passage, then write a sentence or two paraphrasing the information. Try not to look back at the original passage.

 

Dungeness includes the largest area of vegetated shingle in the British Isles and probably in Europe. The vegetation is of special interest, not only because of its diversity, but also on account of the opportunity afforded to ecologists for the study of the colonization of a newly formed habitat by pioneer plants and the maintenance of life in extremely adverse environmental conditions.

Hubbard. J. C. E. (1970). The Shingle Vegetation of Southern England: A General Survey of Dungeness, Kent and Sussex. Journal of Ecology, 58.3 (Nov. 1970), 713-722 (713).

 

There is a common assumption, an unreflecting belief, that it is somehow ‘natural’ for the armed forces to obey the civil power. Therefore instances which show civilian control to have broken down are regarded, if at all, as isolated disturbances, after which matters will again return to ‘normal’. But no reason is adduced for showing that civilian control of the armed forces is, in fact, ‘natural’. Is it? Instead of asking why the military engage in politics, we ought surely to ask why they ever do otherwise. For at first sight the political advantages of the military vis-à-vis other and civilian groupings are overwhelming. The military possess vastly superior organization. And they possess arms.

Finer, S. E. (2002). The man on horseback: The role of the military in politics. New Brunswick, NJ: Transaction Publishers. 5.

 

Plagiarism appeared to generate a host of difficulties for the students interviewed. For the majority it had been a new concept, and although all of those interviewed were very aware of the need to reference the source of the material cited, the positive reasons for adopting this practice--other than to avoid punishment--were not universally apparent. While some did share the 'official' view of its significance, others were perplexed as to why academic staff tend to be so uptight about this issue, especially in relation to undergraduate-level studies where students are generally not involved in producing original work but rather engaging with well-established ideas.

Ashworth, P, Bannister, P, & Thorne, P (1997). Guilty in whose eyes? University students' perceptions of cheating and plagiarism in academic work and assessment. Studies In Higher Education, 22.2, 187.

 

These are some sample answers to the exercises:

 

Dungeness includes the largest area of vegetated shingle in the British Isles and probably in Europe. The vegetation is of special interest, not only because of its diversity, but also on account of the opportunity afforded to ecologists for the study of the colonization of a newly formed habitat by pioneer plants and the maintenance of life in extremely adverse environmental conditions.

Hubbard. J. C. E. (1970). The Shingle Vegetation of Southern England: A General Survey of Dungeness, Kent and Sussex. Journal of Ecology, 58.3 (Nov. 1970), 713-722 (713).

The shingle landscape at Dungeness offers unique opportunities for ecologists to study plants that survive in especially difficult conditions. (Hubbard, 1970, 713.)

There is a common assumption, an unreflecting belief, that it is somehow ‘natural’ for the armed forces to obey the civil power. Therefore instances which show civilian control to have broken down are regarded, if at all, as isolated disturbances, after which matters will again return to ‘normal’. But no reason is adduced for showing that civilian control of the armed forces is, in fact, ‘natural’. Is it? Instead of asking why the military engage in politics, we ought surely to ask why they ever do otherwise. For at first sight the political advantages of the military vis-à-vis other and civilian groupings are overwhelming. The military possess vastly superior organization. And they possess arms.

Finer, S. E. (2002). The man on horseback: The role of the military in politics. New Brunswick, NJ: Transaction Publishers. 5.

Finer (2002, 5) argues that, although people expect the military to be at the command of the government, the fact that they are is actually surprising. He explains this in terms of their organizational superiority and their possession of weapons.

Plagiarism appeared to generate a host of difficulties for the students interviewed. For the majority it had been a new concept, and although all of those interviewed were very aware of the need to reference the source of the material cited, the positive reasons for adopting this practice--other than to avoid punishment--were not universally apparent. While some did share the 'official' view of its significance, others were perplexed as to why academic staff tend to be so uptight about this issue, especially in relation to undergraduate-level studies where students are generally not involved in producing original work but rather engaging with well-established ideas.

Ashworth, P, Bannister, P, & Thorne, P (1997). Guilty in whose eyes? University students' perceptions of cheating and plagiarism in academic work and assessment. Studies In Higher Education, 22.2, 187.

In one study, students stated that, while they understood that they needed to reference their sources, they did not understand why, or why their tutors took it so seriously for undergraduate studies. (Ashworth et al, 1997, 187.)

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