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About UON Harvard Referencing

Explaining how to reference and cite in the UON Harvard style

About these guides

This guide has been designed to provide you with examples and guidance on how to use Harvard referencing in a consistent and accurate manner to refer to a variety of information sources used in your work. It is a comprehensive printable guide, which aims to answer most of your Harvard referencing questions. Library and Learning Services have also produced a two-page quick start guide to referencing, ‘The Harvard Referencing – Quick Guide’. It is important to check with your tutor to see if they have any specific referencing requirements. 

What is referencing?

Referencing is a way of acknowledging other peoples’ ideas and work. You do this through a citation (in the text of your work) and a reference at the end of your work.  

References to other people’s ideas and work are an important part of academic writing as they: 

  • provide support for arguments and claims that you make 
  • show evidence of the breadth and depth of your reading. 

 Remember to reference every source that you use: 

  • to avoid plagiarism (i.e. to take other peoples’ thoughts, ideas or writings and use them as your own)  
  • to allow the reader of your work to refer to the original source to check and verify the ideas presented 
  • to avoid losing marks!

When do you need to reference?

You need to reference when:

  • you quote another person (or group of people) or copy images
  • you write about an idea which another person (or group of people) has created.

For example:

There has been a tendency amongst health workers to diagnose women experiencing domestic violence with a mental illness, rather than identifying the distress as a result of violence (Harne and Radford, 2008, p.44).

When is a reference not needed?

You do not need to reference when:

  • when you are writing about your own ideas (unless you have included them in a previous assignment)
  • when the information you are writing about is common knowledge, for example:

Northampton is in the county town of Northamptonshire.

To decide whether a piece of information is common knowledge, ask yourself whether your reader could be familiar with the information without needing to do any research and whether the information is widely available.  If the answer to both of these is ‘yes’, the information is probably common knowledge; but it’s better to err on the side of caution and include a reference if you are in any doubt.