Introduction to referencing

What is referencing and why do I need to do it?

What is referencing?

  • Referencing is the acknowledgment of sources (e.g., books, journal articles) you use in your academic work.
  • Referencing is an essential academic skill and you can be marked on it.
  • Referencing is an important part of academic writing. Taking the time to learn to reference correctly is very worthwhile.

What does referencing consist of?

  1. The citation
    A citation (in-text referencing) acknowledges your source in the text of a document.
  2. The reference list
    A list of the sources you have used at the end of your document (e.g., a footnote, reference list, works cited, or a bibliography).

 Sample citation using APA 7th (in-text referencing)

Denzin and Ryan (2007) assert that the focus group method aligns with qualitative methodologies by revealing participants’ debate.


Qualitative methodology lends itself to the focus group method because it demonstrates debate amongst the participants (Denzin & Ryan, 2007).

Sample reference list using APA 7th

APA 7th Reference list

What are referencing styles?

Referencing follows a set of rules and conventions known as a referencing style. There are many different referencing styles used at The University of Auckland. If you are not sure which style you should use, consult your course guide, or check with your lecturer or tutor.

To find out more about specific styles visit Referencite

Why reference?

  • Referencing shows that an idea or argument is backed up by evidence.
  • Referencing gives credit to the original author or authors.
  • Referencing allows the reader to track down the original sources you have used.
  • Not referencing correctly is considered plagiarism and may result in penalties.
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