When writing an academic assignment you will use information from textbooks, academic journals and other sources to support your arguments. It is essential that you cite accurately and reference all the information that you have used.

Referencing is an important part of your assignment (usually 5-10% of allocated marks) and is required for the following reasons:
  • To acknowledge other authors’ copyrighted work
  • To demonstrate to your tutor the depth and breadth of your research
  • To enable your sources to be traced and verified if necessary
  • To avoid failing your assignment due to plagiarism


Which referencing system should you use?

There are several systems available for citing and referencing. Your tutor will direct you to use a particular one.

The main systems in use at University of Bolton are:

  • Harvard – mainly used by Art & Design; Engineering; Science; and Social Science
  • Numeric – mainly used by Humanities
  • APA - Psychology
  • OSCOLA - Law

Use the links above to help you reference your work. 


Coursework Guide - Referencing

This video shows two academics explaining how to use your references effectively.  

Richard Farr and Chris Grant

Transcript of Coursework Guide - Referencing [DOC]



When someone writes a book or journal article the content is their intellectual property. To use it without acknowledgement (i.e., referencing) is plagiarism. Intellectual property also extends to all types of material such as music, song lyrics, video content, websites etc.

Plagiarism is serious academic misconduct – effectively academic theft. If you do not acknowledge the work of another author (intentionally or not) or present other people’s work as your own it is deemed as plagiarism, ie, cheating. This includes:

  • Copying or cut and pasting text or images into your work without referencing the source
  • Copying another student’s work – even if they have given you permission
  • Buying a complete assignment from an Internet source

All material must be cited and referenced – text, data, photographs, sound recordings, Internet material etc.

Students found guilty of plagiarism will be subject to University disciplinary procedures. Penalties for plagiarism include having to repeat assessments or even being suspended from their course in serious cases.



Citing is the acknowledgement of your sources within the main body or your assignment. When you directly quote or paraphrase someone else’s work you must acknowledge the source according to the referencing system you have been asked to use.


Reference List

Your reference list gives full details of the sources that you have cited in the main body of your assignment. This list is located at the end of your assignment after you have concluded the main body of text.



This is a list of sources that you have read and which have influenced your thinking, but you have not paraphrased or quoted from them and therefore, have not cited them in the main text of your assignment. The bibliography is located after the reference list. You may not need to produce a bibliography in addition to references – only do it if you have been directed to in the assignment brief.

Sometimes the terms ‘references’ and ‘bibliography’ are used interchangeably, if necessary, ask your tutor for clarification.


Managing your references

RefWorks provides a means of organising the results of your academic research.  You can create a database of your own records, often imported directly from the electronic resource you are searching, which you can arrange in folders and search by subject, author, journal title etc.

RefWorks can also incorporate citations of your references into a word-processed document and then produce a reference list in a wide range of citation formats, saving you valuable time. It can be used both on- and off-campus.

For help using RefWorks, look at the Help sections within RefWorks and a user support page is available here. A Facebook page is available where you can post queries and learn about the latest developments, and you can also follow RefWorks on Twitter.


Further Help and Support

If you require any help or assistance with referencing, in addition to the above information, there are a number of options depending on the type of help you require.  There are books on referencing (and study skills) in the Library which you can borrow. If you are not sure which referencing system you should use you should speak to your tutor.  Or if you would like an appointment to speak to someone regarding referencing, contact the Student Liaison Officers

Please contact the Help Desk in person, by phone 01204 903094 or email SubjectHelp@bolton.ac.uk if we can be of any assistance.

You may also find the following books in the library useful:


Cite Them Right
By Richard Pears & Graham Shields
The Complete Guide to Referencing and Plagiarism
By Colin Neville