Referencing – what? why? how? help?

What is referencing?

Referencing is an essential part of academic work. You must reference when you are quoting (where you provide text from an external source word for word) or paraphasing (rewriting in your own words) to show that you are using the work/research/theories/data from someone else.

When you cite in the text of your work (an in-text citation), you will also need to create a full reference for it at the end of your work, in a reference list. This gives the full details for the information source so that it can be traced by anyone who reads your work.

Information sources can include: journal articles, conference papers, government reports, books or specific chapters of books, newspaper articles, theses or web pages to name a few.


Why reference?

Referencing adds weight to your argument and helps you to avoid plagiarism: the use of other people’s information and ideas as if they were your own. Plagiarism is considered as unethical in the UK and is treated as misconduct by the University.

You are referencing in order to:

  • show anyone who reads your work your ability to select and refer to the most appropriate external sources which support your work.
  • support specific facts or claims which you make in your work.
  • enable the reader to locate where you obtained each quote or idea.

The benefits to you of referencing are:

  • It shows the range of reading that you have done. This is likely to gain you marks.
  • It can make your own arguments more convincing by supporting them with the ideas of acknowledged experts and data from credible sources.

How do I reference?

Harvard is the main referencing system used in the University. The other referencing systems used are APA (Psychology), Oscola (Law), MHRA (Conservatoire postgraduates), Chicago Style (English and Art-based Masters Programme in the School of Art) and various journal styles, including IEEE (some Computing and Engineering PhD students). All other students should use Harvard. More information about all the referencing systems used at BCU can be found on iCity here

Need help with referencing?

  • Use EndNote as you can now select BCU Harvard as an output style from within the desktop and web versions of EndNote. If you want training on how to use EndNote Web, IT offer workshops, check out their schedule for further details.


*This blog post has been adapted from information on the library’s icity pages.

*Photograph by Trudi Pledger

How to…contact the library


Library Help

We are running our How to events next week.

Library staff will be visiting all 5 of our campus libraries to show you how to get help from the library and the various different ways to contact us.

The timetable for the sessions is below:

Date Location Time
Mon 5 March School of Art Library,

Margaret Street

11:30 to 12:30
Tue 6 March Curzon Library 11:30 to 12:30
Wed 7 March Kenrick Library 11:30 to 12:30
Thu 8 March School of Jewellery Library, Vittoria Street 10:00 to 11:00
Fri 9 March Mary Seacole Library 11:30 to 12:30

Hope to see you there!

^Posted on behalf of Huizhe Jin and Janet Fox, Customer Services.

How to… find a study space


Did you know that the library offers a variety of different study spaces?

Come along to one of our drop in sessions at Seacole Library and


  • Find a study space that suits you
  • Learn more about the learning area in the new building at City South Campus
  • Use PC finder
  • Identify study zones within the library

The drop in sessions are running on the following dates and times at Seacole Library:

Monday 5  February 10:00 to 11:00
Tuesday 6  February 11:00 to 12:00
Wednesday 7  February 12:00 to 13:00
Thursday 8  February 13:00 to 14:00
Friday 9  February 12:00 to 13:00

Find us at the comfy seating area in the Library by the Self-Service Machines


^ Posted on behalf of Huizhe Jin, Customer Services, Seacole Library

Make more of our library resources

Do you want to discover more about how to use library resources, services and databases?

find resources

Then sign up to one of our drop-in sessions where you can:

  • Get hands-on experience of using our databases eg. CINAHL; MEDLINE: Cochrane: PSYCHArticles; SPORTSDiscus; Summon
  • Learn how to get the most out of the databases
  • Improve your search skills and techniques to get better results

Sessions take place in Seacole 271, and are running from now until April.

Simply book your place via moodle (Open Sessions at City South) 

^Posted on behalf of the Learning, Teaching & Research Team, Seacole Library

How to … Carry on studying through the vacation


Following on from the success of our two previous “How to …” pop up events (Getting Started and Finding more than books on the library shelves)  we are running a third  to highlight the following:

  • How to access resources when you are not in University
  • Use the library during vacation
  • Get help when Library’s closed (FAQs)
  • Use other University libraries (SCONUL)

The Customer Services team will be running these sessions at both Curzon Library and Mary Seacole Library on:

Monday 4 December 10am to 11am
Tuesday 5 December 11am to 12pm
Wednesday 6 December 12pm to 1pm
Thursday 7 December 1pm to 2pm
Friday 8 December 10am to 11am

Location of the “How to…” events

Curzon Library: meet library staff on the ground floor opposite the Help Desk.

Seacole Library: meet library staff by the library office door, near Printer/Photocopiers.


Look forward to seeing you there.