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Information Literacy

Referencing Guide

Referencing is a standardised method used particularly in academic writing to acknowledge the sources used in an essay or paper. It serves as evidence from secondary sources to your research. All academic writing requires you to cite all the sources that you have read and consulted in the preparation of your work.

Where do you reference?

  • In the body of your paper. This is called a textual or in-text citation.
  • At the end of your paper. This is known as the reference list or a bibliography. You must always start your bibliography or your reference list on a new page. There is a difference between a bibliography and a reference list.
  • A bibliography is a list of all the sources you have consulted when preparing to write your paper, it doesn’t matter whether you have cited them in the body of your paper or not. A reference list is a list of only the sources you have cited in the body of your paper. Normally in academic writing, students are required to give a reference list.

What must be referenced?

  • To validate and give credibility to your argument.
  • To distinguish between your own ideas and those of someone else’s.
  • To demonstrate to your lecturers the amount of reading you have done.
  • To avoid being accused of plagiarism.

Why do you need to give references for your work?

  • Direct quotation – This is when you use the direct words of the author as they exactly appear in the text. This must be cited and enclosed in quotation marks.
  • Paraphrase – This is when you take a passage from a source and re-write it in your own words but the ideas or facts you are expressing are based on what you read.

The in-text citation

Harvard is an ‘author/date system, so your in-text citation consists of the author(s) and year of publication. In-text citation of a book (the same format applies to a journal article).

If you quote directly from an author or cite a specific idea or piece of information from the source you need to include the page number of the quote in your in-text citation.

The reference list

All in-text citations should be listed in the reference list at the end of your document.

  • Reference list entry for a book
  • Reference list entry for a journal
  • Harvard System of Referencing

Plagiarism Information

What is plagiarism?

Plagiarism is the act of using somebody else’s ideas or words without giving credit to the originator. It is treated as an academic crime and can result in failing the whole course or being expelled from the institution.

There are two kinds of plagiarism

(i) Accidental plagiarism: This type of plagiarism happens when you did not intend to plagiarise but still failed to acknowledge the sources.

(ii) Blatant plagiarism: This is when you commit plagiarism deliberately, e.g. you copy and paste a passage from somebody else’s assignment without acknowledging the source.


Accidental Plagiarism

  • Failure to give citations after paraphrasing or summarising
  • Referencing sources incorrectly
  • Forgetting to put a direct quote in quotation marks
  • Using too many direct quotations constitutes plagiarism, as it indicates that you have contributed very little
  • Failing to paraphrase correctly and keep the original meaning of the passage.

Blatant Plagiarism

  • Asking somebody else to write your essay for you
  • Copying and pasting a passage from somebody else’s essay without acknowledging the source
  • Stealing another person’s essay and submitting it as if it’s yours
  • Buying somebody else’s paper and submitting it as if it’s yours


    What is copyright?

    Copyright is the right of an author or the creator of intellectual property to control the use of his/her work by others. Copyright in South Africa is governed by the Copyright Act No. 98 of 1978 (including subsequent amendments), and the Regulations made in terms thereof. This grants the owner of the copyright (authors and other creators of intellectual property) the right to:

    • Reproduce the work
    • Create derivative works based on the original work
    • Distribute copies of the work
    • Perform the work, or
    • Display the work in public.

    Copyright Warning

    The Copyright Act of 1978 governs the making of photocopies or other reproductions of copyrighted material. Under the requirements of the Act it is acceptable to make single photocopies or other duplicates that are to be used for private study.

    Any use of a photocopy or reproduction for purposes not permissible by the Act may render the user accountable for copyright contravention prosecution. Multiple copies of copyrighted material for distribution to students, without the necessary formal permission, is a violation of the Act.

    The OLC reserves the right to refuse to accept a copying order or to refuse to permit a copy to be made using its equipment if in its judgment the copy might be in violation of the Copyright Act.