Your tutors will be expecting to see in-text citations and full references in your assignments. Don’t forget, every in-text citation must also be fully referenced in your reference list at the end of your assignment.
In-text citations usually have 3 parts:
Put in-text citations into round brackets, with each part separated by a comma:
This was also found to be the case in an earlier study (Smith, 2004, p.25).
If you refer to an author directly in your assignment, only the year and the page number need to be inside the brackets. However, all 3 parts of the in-text citation must be next to each other in the text.
This was also commented on in a study by Smith (2004, p.25).
Sometimes you don’t need to put in the page numbers, for example, if you’re summarising the whole of a source.
Similar phenomena have been observed in other studies (Smith, 2004).
Put in-text citations right next to the point in your writing that the source is referred to, whether it’s a quotation, paraphrase or a summary.
In the following examples, an article by Spink and Jansen, published in 2004, is being cited:
The amount of research about information-seeking behaviour on the Internet that is coming from non-English-speaking countries is increasing (Spink and Jansen, 2004, p.28).
Spink and Jansen (2004, p.28) note that the amount of research about information-seeking behaviour…
When you’re using in-text citations, proof-read your work carefully: it’s important that your work makes sense in terms of punctuation and grammar when you ignore the information in the brackets of your in-text citations.
In a study (Spink and Jansen, 2004, p.28) note that the amount of research…
This doesn’t make sense if you take out the bracketed in-text citation. Instead you could write:
In a study, Spink and Jansen (2004, p.28) note that the amount of research…
When you’re summarising, you may refer to the same idea from more than one source. When you do this, you can list those sources together in your in-text citation.
List the sources in order of the dates that they were published, starting with the earliest. Separate each citation with a semi-colon (;).
(Smith, 1999; Jackson and Williams, 2004; Singh, 2015)
If there is more than one source published in the same year, then list the sources from that year alphabetically by the first author’s last name.
(Smith, 1999; Andrews and Mellors, 2004; Jackson and Williams, 2004; Singh, 2015)
If an author or organisation you’re referring to has published two or more things in the same year, add a letter after the year to distinguish the two sources from each other.
Sharing information is ‘essential for effective safeguarding and promoting the welfare of children and young people’ (Department for Education, 2018a, p. 3) and everyone has a role to play in identifying any concerns and taking action to report them (Department for Education, 2018b, p. 10).
When you do this, you must also put the letter after the year in your reference list. This way, the reader of your work knows which source your citation is referring to.
Department for Education (2018a) Information sharing. Available at: https://assets.publishing.service.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/721581/Information_sharing_advice_practitioners_safeguarding_services.pdf (Accessed: 24 May 2019)
Department for Education (2018b) Working together to safeguard children. Available at: https://assets.publishing.service.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/779401/Working_Together_to_Safeguard-Children.pdf (Accessed: 24 May 2019)
To cite two or more sources that were published in the same year, but by authors who have the same surname, put the initials of the author in your in-text citation as well.
Historically, there has been a “lack of consensus” about these issues (Smith, A., 1999), but this has not necessarily prevented research from taking place (Smith, M., 1999).
You do not need to use initials if the years that the documents were published are different, or if one or both of the authors is part of a larger group.
Historically, there has been a “lack of consensus” about these issues (Smith, 1999), and some research has shown a huge divergence in results (Smith and Patel, 1999).
The key thing to remember is that it must be easy for someone reading your research to correctly match every in-text citation to the right source in your reference list.
Many students worry about citing sources that have more than one author because the names use up words from their limited word-count.
If a source has one to three authors, all of them must be written in the in-text citation.
(McKeever, Bates and Reilley, 2010)
However, if there are more than three authors, you can instead write out only the first author’s name and then use et al. Et al. is a Latin phrase that means ‘and others’. Because it’s not English, you should always write it in italics (slanted text). Always put a full stop after al. as it’s an abbreviation of a longer word.
In this example, a student is using a source written by Tod, Bond, Leonard, Gilsenan and Palfreyman.
Some research suggests that many critical clinical questions get lost or forgotten in the time between practice and reflection (Tod et al., 2006, p.626).
Only use et al. in in-text citations: in your full reference list, you must list all of the authors. Remember that your reference list is not included in your word count, though!
If there are no individually named authors, but an organisation or corporation is clearly responsible for the resource, you can use their name instead.
Always write out the organisation's name in full the first time that you use it. If you want to save words after this by referring to it by its initials instead, add the initials in brackets after this first use.
A report by the International Federation of Library Associations and Institutions (IFLA) (2017) stated...
...libraries are "eager to work more collaboratively and develop partnerships." (IFLA, 2017).
In your reference list, you should write out the organisation's name in full.
Evaluating sources and then choosing the best ones to help you make your arguments is part of good academic practice.
If a source does not reveal who made it or when it was made, you should carefully think about why this is the case, and decide whether the source is really suitable for use in an academic assignment. If you still decide to include it then use the following guidelines:
Authors and editors can be people or organisations. If neither is given, you can use the source title or URL in your in-text citation instead.
Look carefully for anything that shows when the source was made. On websites, this can be at the very bottom of the page, and on PDFs, you can sometimes find it on the back cover. If there is a copyright statement for the source (e.g. ‘© 2016’), you may use this as the date if no other date is present.
If you still cannot find a date, use the phrase ‘no date’ (without single quotations marks) in both your in-text citation and reference list.
...the remains of a Victorian funicular railway (National Trust, no date).
National Trust (no date) Chasm explorer. Available at: https://www.nationaltrust.org.uk/devils-dyke/trails/devils-dyke-histories-and-mysteries-walk (Accessed: 5 September 2019).
For courses involving placements or professional experiences, or if you carry out research in these areas, it’s unethical to name people or organisations directly. You should change the names of people and organisations to code names.
In your research, you used Midtown High School’s Behaviour management policy and Uptown Grammar School’s Pupil code of conduct. In your assignment you might change the name ‘Midtown High School’ to ‘Secondary School A’ and ‘Uptown Grammar School’ to ‘Secondary School B’.
An in-text reference may look like this:
Strategies include working with pupils to create "personalised positive behaviour plans" (Secondary school A, 2015a)...
In an interview, a teacher from Midtown High School says something of interest. You might change the name of the teacher to ‘Teacher A1’ to show that they were from Midtown High School. A teacher from Uptown Grammar School might therefore become ‘Teacher B1’.
Use the code names in all your in-text citations and in your full reference list.
In your reference list entry, you must also remove anything from the publication details that might identify organisations or people – even if this means that you have to leave out parts of the full reference that you would normally include (for example, the URL of the source).
Secondary school A (2017) Behaviour management policy.
Secondary school A (2017) Behaviour management policy. Available at http://www.uptown.sch.uk/upload/docs/behaviour-management.pdf (Accessed: 23 May 2019).
This guidance was updated on 19 October 2019 with the requirement to include the year of the original source that you are referencing.
Sometimes, you may want to cite a source that you have not read, but has been summarised, paraphrased or quoted in a source that you’re using.
We call this ‘secondary referencing’.
We recommend that you try to avoid using secondary references: this is because you’re relying on someone else’s interpretation of another person’s idea. The original context of that idea, or the author’s interpretation of it, may not be correct or relevant for your own work. If possible, always read the original work.
In a textbook by Wilson written in 2015, you see a summary of a research project carried out by Khan in 2012. You want to refer to Khan’s work, but you have not read it yourself.
Your in-text citation must include both the name of the author whose ideas you’re using and the year they were published (Khan and 2012), as well as well as the author of the source you have read and its publication year (Wilson and 2015).
Use the phrase ‘cited in’ or ‘quoted in’ depending on how you’re presenting the idea in your work. You must include the dates of both the secondary source and the source you are reading it in.
Several key studies have demonstrated this effect (Khan, 2012, cited in Wilson, 2015).
This effect has been described as “prominent and sustained” over several studies (Khan, 2012, quoted in Wilson, 2015, p.24)
In your reference list, you must only put the full reference for the work you have read (in this example, Wilson). The person reading your assignment will be able to find a full reference to Khan in Wilson’s work.
We recommend that you check with your tutor before using any of your previous work as a source for a new assignment. Some programmes or modules have different rules about when it is or is not appropriate to self-reference.
If you want to refer to work that has been marked – whether from your current course or module or not – it is important that you cite this properly in both your in-text citations and in your full reference list.
This is to avoid the trap of ‘self-plagiarism’. When done deliberately, self-plagiarism is an attempt to get ‘double credit’ for submitted work.
To cite yourself, use the same method for in-text citations as for any other source: your own surname and the year.
I reflected on my use of qualitative research methods in my placement portfolio (Satchwell Giles, 2018).
For guidance on how to create your reference list entry, see the guidance on 'Students' own work' in the Reference list: guide and examples.
This guide and referencing examples show you how to reference most of the sources you’re likely to use in your work.
If there isn’t an example that fits what you’re trying to use, try 3 things:
You can ask Academic Service Librarians for advice on referencing by:
If a particular reference is causing you trouble, your Module Leader should be able to tell you how they would like you to present it.
Our referencing style is based on the principles in Cite them right by Richard Pears and Graham Shields. This book is available from the Library, or you can buy a copy. The details are:
Pears, R. and Shields, G. (2019) Cite them right: the essential referencing guide. 11th edn. Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan. ISBN: 9781352005134.