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References and Citations

References and citations are methods for acknowledging someone’s work. It is important to document all of the sources that you use in your written work. If you borrow someone else’s idea without citing it, that is plagiarism.

Documentation is noting, through references and citations, the ideas of another person that you have used in your written work. A reference is the complete bibliographic information for the source you are using in your essay. A citation is the way you give credit to the original author or creator of ideas.

There are several different documentation styles specific to each discipline. For example, social sciences and health sciences often use APA (American Psychological Association) documentation style. Engineering uses IEEE (Institute for Electrical and Electronics Engineers). Find out which documentation styles are used in your courses and learn them. The sooner you understand the formatting of the style, the better off you will be when writing your assignments.


Keep detailed notes of where you have found the research. Learn the proper way to document the research and paraphrase or quote correctly.


For more on understanding the parts of a reference, view the video below by Lund University: