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Academic Writing

The role of referencing

Academic writers need to support their arguments with evidence, and readers of academic writing need to evaluate the validity of that evidence. A reference is the bracketed or footnoted piece of information that tells the reader where the supporting evidence used in academic writing comes from. The role of the reference is twofold: firstly, it informs the reader of the source of your ideas so that he or she can distinguish between your words and ideas and those of others; secondly, accurate referencing and lists of references are necessary to allow the reader to evaluate the information and read further into the area.

When to reference

You should use a reference when you have included an idea in your essay or report which is not your own original idea and which is not common knowledge. You must reference the idea whether you have presented the idea in the author's original words, as a quote, or have paraphrased or summarised the author's idea into your own words. You don't need to include a reference when the idea or concept is common knowledge in your discipline.

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