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Referencing Hub

Photograph of a student studying at Queen Mary Whitechapel Library. Welcome to the Queen Mary Library Services referencing hub.

Learning to reference correctly is an important academic skill which many students can find challenging.

On this page you will find a brief introduction to the essentials of referencing plus links to additional support, advice and guidance which will help you understand what referencing is, why it’s important, and how to reference correctly.

Referencing is the process by which the author (or authors) of a piece of academic work clearly states the evidence they have used to support their analysis and conclusions. It is a core aspect of academic scholarship, and forms part of the marking criteria for academic work. 

The correct use of referencing ensures that you clearly acknowledge the contributions of other scholars to your own work. It also enables other readers to consult the texts you have referred to, and helps tutors and other scholars ensure that the information you are using to inform your work is credible and reliable.

Crucially, referencing is important to avoid plagiarism, as it enables you to clearly state the contributions of other scholars’ work to your own. You can find out more about Plagiarism and how to avoid it in the Academic Integrity QMplus module.

A reference will vary depending on the style of your discipline. It is usually formed of two parts:

  1. The citation.  This is placed in the text of the document to clearly show the reader where information from another source is being used. It can contain brief identifying information such as an author name and date of publication.
  2. The reference. This provides the full information the reader needs to identify and search for the source to which it refers, and sits at the end of the document in a reference List or bibliography.

Both parts need to be present in your academic work. There are many ways or styles for creating these two parts, and each style will have its own conventions for referencing different types of academic sources e.g. book chapter, journal article, website. 

Example of a citation and a reference 

  • A citation (shown in bold below) appears in the text of a document. For example: 

It is clear that Miramax was once a significant player in independent cinema (Biskind, 2005)

  • A reference corresponding to the above citation would look like the following:

Biskind, P. (2005) Down and dirty pictures: Miramax, Sundance and the rise of independent film. London: Bloomsbury

This would appear in the reference list or bibliography of a document. 


First of all, you should identify which referencing style you need to use. You can find information about which style is required by your school/department/module/tutor in your course handbook.  

Secondly, identify what type of source you need to reference e.g. journal article, book, book chapter, news article, website, play, film. You then need to identify how to correctly reference this type of source in the referencing style you are using. You can find out more about how to do this by using the Referencing Guides and Resources section of the Referencing Hub. 

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