Studying at university usually involves reading, understanding and explaining large amounts of complex and sophisticated information. As part of your course, you will be asked to write assignments which require you to ‘explain’ what you know about a particular area. To be able to do this well requires a set of academic skills and an understanding of what is good academic practice. By this we mean that you understand and observe academic conventions around using information and writing about the topics which you will study on your course.
In the UK, students are required to include references when they write their assignments. Every time you include a reference you are acknowledging what evidence is available to support your ideas. When done properly, referencing will strengthen your argument and improve the quality of your work.
If you do not include references in your assignment, you can experience problems around plagiarism. This is when a writer does not acknowledge where information that they have used in their work has come from – plagiarism is considered to be an academic offence.
Following referencing guidelines will help you to show your reader where information that you are using has come from and protect you against plagiarism. Details of how to reference are available here. However, in order to ensure that you use your references correctly it is also important that you apply effective study skills when researching, writing and checking your assignment.
There are a number of common reasons why students could plagiarise. Each of these is addressed in the five sections on the left hand menu:
- Academic writing
- Note taking