Academic writing requires authors to support their argument with reference to other published works or findings. Referencing is how you give credit when you use material or ideas that are not your own. References establish the credibility and transparency of your work, they demonstrate that you have spent time finding, reading, and thinking critically about material. Referencing your sources helps your reader:

  1. Recognise instances where you have used another person’s work
  2. Locate for themselves the source material used
  3. Check, if necessary, the evidence on which your work is based.

The following is a list of examples of the types of resources you might use for your references:

  • Books
  • eBooks
  • Chapters in books
  • Journal articles
  • Online journal articles
  • Conference papers and reports
  • Government publications
  • Theses, dissertations and other academic work
  • Webpages
  • Newspapers
  • Images, drawings and diagrams
  • YouTube videos
  • Podcasts
  • Blogs
  • Lecture notes
  • Dictionaries and encyclopaedias.

Plagiarism occurs when you do not give credit to your sources by referencing them or passing off somebody else’s work or ideas as your own. Plagiarism is a serious academic offence and the only way to avoid it is to correctly acknowledge every instance where you have used the work of others.

Citing your own work is perfectly fine if you think it is justified. Self-plagiarism, however, occurs when you re-submit material without reference to the fact that it has already been graded as part of a previous assignment. To prevent this taking place, each piece of work should be presented as a standalone item for assessment.

See this short video for more details about How to Avoid Plagiarism.

There are many styles of referencing but here at the IMI the Harvard Referencing style is used. Harvard referencing is a citation style in which citations are put within parentheses in the text, either within or after a sentence. The citations are accompanied by a full, alphabetized bibliography at the end of the assignment. It is also sometimes referred to as the Author/Date style.

The Knowledge Centre has put together a guide to Harvard Referencing. If you notice anything missing please contact library staff at knowledge@imi.ie and we will endeavour to include it.

The guide and further examples are available on this page: Harvard Referencing Guide and Examples.

The Harvard Referencing style comprises of two elements:

  1. How you refer to other authors in the body of your text (in-text citation).
  2. How you compile a list of reference sources at the end of your text (reference list).

In-Text Citations

Referring to your sources in the main body of your text requires the use of in-text citations. In-text citations appear in parentheses and include basic details about your source:

  • Name of author or organisation
  • Year of publication, followed by a comma
  • Page number where possible

An example of a generic in-text citation looks like this:

  • (Author, Year, p. x)

Every citation, regardless of the source type, should follow this basic format. Include page numbers whenever possible to give your reader the exact location of your source. A useful rule of thumb is that you need to have a good reason not to include a page reference. If your reference runs over a range of pages, they should be included as follows

  • (Author, year, p. x-xx)

Direct Quotation

A direct quotation is one in which you copy an author’s word directly from the original source and use that exact wording in the main body of your text. In this case the format mentioned above applies with the inclusion of quotation marks around the copied portion of text.

Example: Management is a ‘set of processes that can keep a complicated system of people and technology running smoothly’ (Kotter, 1996, p.25)

A short direct quotation should be inserted directly into the text without putting it into a new line. A long direct quotation (i.e., more than two lines long) should be inserted as a separate paragraph and indented from the main text.

Indirect Quotation

An indirect quotation is where you do not copy the original source word for word; instead, you capture its meaning using your own words. Though not directly quoting you must still cite your source of information. In this case the format mentioned above applies with the exclusion of quotation marks.

Example: Eisenstat (1989, p. 10) describes how John believes that change cannot occur through negative feedback. By only providing positive feedback, employees may feel better about themselves, but this does not provide personal development.

Your bibliography is an extension of each of your in-text citations. Your reader can use your bibliography to verify and locate your source material. A bibliography must be arranged entirely in alphabetical order by surname.

What to include

It is important to include all sources referred to in the main body of your text in a bibliography. Pears & Shields (2019, p. 2) state “any information that you copy and paste, repeat word for word, paraphrase or summarise must be acknowledged by referencing it. This includes all information available on the internet.”

What not to include

If you have not used material in the main body of your text, then you do not need to include it in your bibliography. This also applies to any material you have read in the course of your assignment that did not contribute to any of the ideas you have put forth.