Referencing or Bibliographic Citation

Referencing or bibliographic citation is a systematic method of acknowledging another person’s ideas which have been used in one’s own writing. It is essential to  refer all sources that have been used in the write-up and manuscript, including words and ideas, facts, images, videos, audio, websites, statistics, diagrams and data to make it authentic and valid in front of the reader.

Why referencing?

  • Referencing or bibliographic citation helps to assist in avoiding plagiarism.

    Plagiarism presents someone else’s work or ideas as your own, with or without their consent, by incorporating it into your work without full acknowledgement. All published and unpublished material, whether in manuscript, printed or electronic form, is covered under this definition. Plagiarism may be intentional or reckless or unintentional. Under regulations for examinations, intentional or reckless plagiarism is a disciplinary offence.

  • Referencing ensures that you have acknowledged your sources and that you have done your best to avoid plagiarism.
  • Enables other researchers to locate your sources.
  • Researchers rely on referencing to locate sources.
  • Supports and strengthens your argument.
  • The reader can determine whether the sources you have used support your argument.

How to refer properly?

There are many acceptable forms of referencing. Specific referencing styles may be used in some subject areas, units and publications. Check your unit’s study guide or check with your supervisor for information on which style is required.

Referencing includes two elements:

  • A citation within the text of your assignment or paper indicating that a particular concept, phrase or idea has been sourced elsewhere.
  • A complete reference list giving the full citation details for all sources referred to in the document.

The referencing style you choose determines the way you construct in-text citations and the reference list.

There are several types of referencing style as follows:

APA referencing

APA referencing is a variant on Harvard style. Most of the conventions are the same, with brief author-date citations in brackets in the body of the text and full citations in the reference list. It is usual to include a reference list only rather than a bibliography in APA style. Citations for websites are also slightly different, with no need to include a date accessed. For more information, please visit:

Chicago style

Chicago style referencing offers two options for citations: either to list brief citations in the body of the text as in Harvard referencing, or to list them in footnotes as in Oxford referencing. So if you are asked to use Chicago style referencing, it is especially important to check which format your department wants you to use. You should be able to find more information in your course or module handbook. If you cannot find anything there, do ask your course tutor. For more information, please visit:

Harvard referencing

Harvard referencing also known as ‘author-date’ style. In Harvard style the in-text citation can be in brackets in the body of the text or in footnotes, and uses the author’s surname and the date of publication, with the page number if it is a reference to a particular page. Full details are only listed in the bibliography or reference list.

Note that because Harvard is a ‘style’ rather than a system or set of rules, the preferred punctuation and formatting of the text may differ. Check for any examples in your course handbook, and if they are not available, be consistent. For more information, please visit:

MLA Paper Formatting Basics

MLA style is a referencing method developed by the Modern Language Association. It consists of two parts:a brief in-text citation in the body of your essay and a detailed list of the “Works Cited” at the end of the work. The MLA system uses in-text citations rather than footnotes or endnotes. The citations in-text are very brief, usually just the author’s family name and a relevant page number. These citations correspond to the full references in the list of works cited at the end of the document. For more information, please visit:

How can I manage my references?

Library Workshop and Research Support Training sessions on bibliographic management software packages cover-

  •  Free to use
  • Desktop application; web-based application
  • Can organize PDFs and other documents
  • Can highlight/annotate PDFs
  • Can follow other researchers and create a network
  • Mendeley’s free version is limited to 3 users per group, but users can purchase premium plans to upgrade users and shared groups.
  •  For more information, visit the guide on mendeley
EndNote (Basic)
  • Free to use
  • Free up to 2GB
  • Share groups with other EndNote Basic users
  • For more information, visit  the guide on EndNote.
  • Free to use
  • Free up to 300 MB/additional storage space available
  • Multi-platform desktop version with connectors for Firefox, Chrome and Safari
  • Web-based access to reference library also available.
  • Can organize PDFs and other documents
  • Cannot highlight/annotate PDFs
  • Can share and collaborate with other through groups

What is a literature review?

A literature review is a search and evaluation of the available literature in your given subject or chosen topic area. It documents the state of the art with respect to the subject or topic you are writing about.

A literature review has four main objectives:

  • It surveys the literature in your chosen area of study.
  • It synthesizes the information in that literature into a summary.
  • It critically analyses the information gathered by identifying gaps in current knowledge; by showing limitations of theories and points of view; and by formulating areas for further research and reviewing areas of controversy.
  • It presents the literature in an organized way.

What is a Bibliography?

Bibliographies, on the other hand, differ greatly References lists. In References, you only list items you have actually referred to and cited in your paper. A Bibliography, meanwhile, lists all the material you have consulted in preparing your essay, whether you have actually referred to and cited the work or not. This includes all sources that you have used in order to do any research.

In-text Citation

An in-text citation is used to give credit to your source directly in the text of your paper. These citations are sometimes called “parenthetical citations” or “in-text references”.

Sources of Information

In general, there are three types of resources or sources of information: primary, secondary, and tertiary. It is important to understand these types and to know what type is appropriate for your coursework prior to searching for information.

  • 1. Primary sources are original materials on which other research is based, including:
    • Original written works – Theses, dissertations, scholarly journal articles (research-based), some government reports, symposia and conference proceedings, original artwork, poems, photographs, speeches, letters, memos, personal narratives, diaries, interviews, autobiographies, and correspondence.
  • 2. Secondary sources are those that describe or analyze primary sources, including:
    • Reference Materials – Textbooks, edited works, books and articles that interpret or review research works, histories, biographies, literary criticism and interpretation, reviews of law and legislation, political analyses and commentaries.
  • 3. Tertiary sources are those used to organize and locate secondary and primary sources.
    • Indexes – provide citations that fully identify a work with information such as author, titles of a book, article, and/or journal, publisher and publication date, volume and issue number and page numbers.
    • Abstracts – summarize the primary or secondary sources,
    • Databases – are online indexes that usually include abstracts for each primary or secondary resource, and may include a digital copy of the resource.
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Dr. Zahid Hossain


University Librarian

+880255668200 Ext.1351