Managing Citation and Referencing in Assignments and Dissertations... and Avoiding Plagiarism


Quick links:

1. Bibliographical references

2. Citing references and quotations

3. Citing words and meanings

4. Diagrams and tables

5. Plagiarism

6. Working with others: avoiding plagiarism

1. Bibliographical references, placed at the end of the assignment

If you borrow material or ideas from other authors, it is vital that you tell your readers this, and show clearly what the source was. This process is called citation. If you fail to do this, you will be guilty of the serious offence of plagiarism (see section 5 below). You must therefore always provide a complete list of books, papers and Web pages which you refer to and from which you have made direct quotations in your assignments. You should list all and only the works you specifically mention, and arrange them in alphabetical order according to the author's surname. The list should be given the heading: References. Do not provide a general bibliography of works you might have consulted.

There are slightly different ways of setting out the required information, depending on the discipline and the publisher. However, the basic information required is the same in every case, namely:

For books: Author (surname and initial(s)), date of publication, title, place of publication, publisher. Edition number, if the book has been revised.

For articles: Author (surname and initial(s)), date, title of paper, name of journal, volume number, issue number, page numbers.



Hudson, R. A. (1996). Sociolinguistics (2nd edn.). Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

Frederiksen, J. R. and Collins, A. (1989). A systems approach to educational testing. Educational Researcher 18(9): 27–32.

Milroy, L. (1997). The social categories of race and class: language ideology and sociolinguistics. In Coupland, N., Sarangi, S. and Candlin, C. (eds.) Sociolinguistics and social theory. London: Longman, pp. 235–60.

Ricks, D. M. (1972). The beginning of vocal communication in infants and autistic children. Unpublished doctoral thesis, University of London.


Note on formatting: In the above example, we have used blank lines between each entry to set references apart from each other. An alternative is to indent the second and subsequent lines.


Referencing the Internet:

References to articles and other material accessible on-line must specify the pathway for access and the date on which the information was accessed.


Where the author(s) can be identified:

Scott, J. (1996). Class, status, and command: towards a theoretical framework. Paper delivered at Hitotsubashi University, November 1996., accessed 7/8/06.

Where the author(s) cannot be identified:

Office for National Statistics. The National Statistics socio-economic classification., accessed 7/8/06.

Note: References to the internet should be included in the same list as references to books and articles, in alphabetical order according to source.


2. Citing references and quotations in your text

You must acknowledge anyone whose ideas or writings you use, even if you do not quote them directly. One of the following styles of acknowledgement shown below will be appropriate, depending on the circumstances.

All direct quotations must either be enclosed in single inverted commas, unless they are three or more lines long, in which case they should be set off by the use of an indented margin.

Note: References like these, which form part of the text, are only useful if the full reference is included in the bibliography, so make sure you check that each reference has a corresponding entry in your list of references at the end. This applies also when your source for a reference is another source (see below).

(a) Where you give a shortish quote (between inverted commas):

According to Smith (1973:13), 'Where conflict between data between modalities occurs, interpretation in terms of one of the modalities may dominate'.

You can also do this:

According to Smith (1973), 'Where conflict between data between modalities occurs, interpretation in terms of one of the modalities may dominate' (p.13).


(b) Where you give a longish quote (indented margin):

Hudson's view is quite different:

          One of the most solid achievements of linguistics in the twentieth century has been to eliminate
          the idea (at least among professional linguists) that some languages or dialects are inherently
          'better' than others. (1996:203)


(c) Where there is no direct quotation (summary of views):

Hudson (1996:203) points out that one of the most important recent achievements of linguistics is to do away with the idea that some languages or dialects are better than others.

Spatial imagery cannot develop without sight (Serden 1932:17).

Note that the writing of summaries (or précis) is a highly skilled activity, and is not to be confused with minor paraphrasing, where slight adjustments to the original wording are made. We advise you to avoid the latter. It is not acceptable to change one or two words of someone else's text and present the slightly changed text as your own.


(d) Secondary sources:

Where you have not actually read the original of a book or article but have read about it elsewhere, for example in a textbook, you should always make this clear. This can be done as follows:

As reported in Fromkin and Rodman (1983:342), Chomsky (1965:17) claimed that children are 'pre-wired' to learn language.


Jefferson (1984, cited by Atkinson 1986:46) argues that …

In the list of references, you should always provide the full bibliographical reference for the work or publication the quote is taken from (the primary source). Thus, in the above examples, Fromkin and Rodman, Chomsky, Jefferson and Atkinson would all be fully referenced in the References list.


(e) Internet references:

Note that it is neither necessary nor possible to include a page reference in these cases. Often it will also not be possible to identify the date of publication or posting on the Internet.

Where the author(s) can be identified:

As Scott (1996) states, 'Class is one of the central concepts in sociological analysis'.

Where the author(s) cannot be identified:

Britain has a new official social class classification: 'From 2001 the National Statistics Socio-economic Classification (NS-SEC) will be used for all official statistics and surveys' (Office for National Statistics).


(f) Citing a personal communication:

William Labov (2006, personal communication) now believes that …


3. Citing words and meanings

The following sentence is almost impossible to understand:

Many people write those but when speaking say them.

The problem is that two of the words in the above sentence are being cited rather than used as words, but we cannot tell which two. Once this is shown in the text, all becomes clear:

Many people write those but when speaking say them.

By convention, cited words or phrases like kick the bucket are shown in italics or underlined, while meanings are shown between inverted commas. Example:

Endure has among its meanings 'to remain firm, to last' (Chambers Twentieth Century Dictionary) and 'to last or continue to exist' (Collins Concise English Dictionary).

Note: Italic print (available on a word processor) is just an alternative to underlining when using a typewriter or handwriting.


4. Diagrams and tables

You are encouraged to use diagrams and tables where these are clearer than long explanations in words. However, remember that unless tables, illustrations etc. are self-explanatory – which usually they are not – you must provide your readers with an explanation of what they are looking at. Tables should have a heading (placed above them) and diagrams or pictures should have a caption (placed below them) to explain their relationship with and relevance to the text.

Provide keys for tables and figures if abbreviations or special symbols are used. Make sure you explain the meaning of arrows, brackets, etc. where this is not obvious (and don't assume that very much is obvious to the reader!).

If you use tables or figures from other sources, or put these together using information published elsewhere, remember to acknowledge your sources and include them in the bibliography.


5. Plagiarism

Plagiarism occurs when a writer appropriates the thoughts, writings or results of another, and presents these as his/her own. Assignments and dissertations must be the candidate's own work and must acknowledge assistance given and major sources involved. In the Department we view all plagiarism extremely seriously, and we have not hesitated to apply appropriate sanctions in individual cases. You can expect severe penalties and disciplinary action if you indulge in plagiarism of any form.

This category of cheating includes the following:

  1. Collusion, where a piece of work prepared by a group is represented as if it were the student's own;
  2. Commission or use of work by the student which is not his/her own and representing it as if it were. This includes purchase of a paper from a commercial service, including internet sites, whether pre-written or specially prepared for the student concerned, and submission of a paper written by another person, either by a fellow student or a person who is not a member of the university;
  3. Duplication of the same or almost identical work for more than one module - this means that you CANNOT copy material from one of your essays into another. This is self-plagiarism and is punishable in the same way as if you copied from someone else;
  4. The act of copying or paraphrasing a paper from a source text, whether in manuscript, printed or electronic form, without appropriate acknowledgement;
  5. Submission of another student's work, whether with or without that student's knowledge or consent.

If you are unclear about what constitutes plagiarism, please talk to a member of academic staff. For more information, including details of penalties and procedures, see:

Working With Others: Avoiding Plagiarism

Collusion and purloining both are forms of plagiarism. Hence they are both forbidden.

The department strongly encourages you, where appropriate, to collaborate with other students in your studies. That is why, on several modules, we ask you to work with your peers in study groups and make joint presentations or portfolios for assessment.

However, as the degree is awarded to you, individually, we need to be satisfied that the bulk of the work for which you receive credit is your own work. That is why we set many individual coursework assignments, tests, dissertations and examinations. That is why we also always insist that whenever you hand in individually assessed work, you sign a declaration confirming that it is your own work and nobody else's, i.e. you yourself researched the piece, determined its structure and presentation and are responsible for its contents, which are written by you in your own words. If any of the contents of the piece are not your own ideas or written in your own words, you must explicitly and unambiguously indicate that fact by using standard referencing conventions.


The offence of collusion is committed when a student hands in a piece of work for assessment which is the product of a joint endeavour with one or more people who may or may not be her/his classmates but pretends that it is all a single authored piece, and falsely claims authorship. That is dishonest: it is cheating. Normally, all parties found guilty of this offence are penalised equally.

Suspicion of collusion is aroused if, in what are meant to be individually assessed pieces submitted by two or more students, there are very strong similarities in content, presentation and structure that go beyond resemblances that may reasonably be deemed accidental or inevitable given the nature of the task.

To avoid collusion, you must avoid collaborative learning and writing practices that may result in you making false claims about the authorship of a piece that you hand in for assessment. Collusion may involve the following scenarios:

  • a student commissions another student to research and/or ghost write an assignment, in part or in its entirety, for which the former claims authorship;
  • one student allows another to copy her/his work in part or in its entirety with a view to the latter claiming falsely that it is her/his own work;
  • a group of two or more students collaborate and produce a joint assignment which they subsequently might edit or otherwise modify to varying degrees for individual submission.

You are free, of course, to discuss your work with other people, and it may often be the case that you want to talk about your assignments with your fellow students. Sparking ideas off one another is a part of intellectual life and we do not want to discourage it. However, you should be careful when discussing actual assignment topics that you do not end up jointly planning an assignment. If you do reach the point of discussing the content it would be better to agree explicitly to do different things; otherwise you may end up presenting two assignments which duplicate each other to an unacceptable extent.

Collusion and group work

Collusion can also take the form of inappropriate collaboration during group work. The following steps should be taken to avoid this:

  • Each individual's contribution should be indicated
  • Each member of the group should normally write up their own contribution in their own words
  • The contribution of other group members should be explicitly acknowledged.


Purloining is a form of academic cheating whereby material is copied (with or without editorial modification) from another student's work without her/his knowledge and is presented for assessment. In this event, only the cheat is penalised.

If in doubt about any of these matters, ask your tutor or lecturer for further guidance.


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