In academic writing, using the words or ideas of others is not acceptable unless you reference those ideas; that is, you must show the readers whose words and ideas are being used and where those words or ideas can be found. If you do not do this, you are, in effect, stealing other people's ideas. This is called plagiarism. While some students may view plagiarism as a relatively harmless offence, university departments take it very seriously and can impose heavy penalties on students who are found to be plagiarising. These penalties include exclusion from University.
Students often get mixed up are often confused by the difference between references and reference lists. You need to be clear on the difference between the two even though both are necessary for University assignments. A reference is the bracketed or footnoted piece of information within the text of your writing that provides an acknowledgment that you are using someone else's ideas. A reference list should be attached to the end of the text of your assignment. It provides the full bibliographic information for each of the sources you have referenced within the text of your assignment.
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