Referencing FAQs

Which referencing style should I use?

At Deakin, the Harvard, APA, Chicago, Oxford, AGLC, Vancouver, Numbered Citation and IEEE referencing styles are used across various disciplines.

  1. Consult your unit guide to find out which style is required for your unit. Another reason to consult your unit guide first is that some units may have requirements that differ from the styles presented in this referencing guide.
  2. Consult the Deakin guide to referencing. Again, keep in mind that this is a generic guide – any specific requirements from your unit must be taken into account first.
  3. If you are still in any doubt, seek advice from your lecturer or tutor.

What is the difference between a bibliography and reference list?

These two terms are often confused, so you should always confirm which one you need to produce.

A bibliography is a list of all the works that you have consulted in preparing an assignment. These sources may or may not be cited in the assignment.

By contrast, a reference list (sometimes called 'Works cited') includes only those sources that you have cited in your paper.

Both a bibliography and a reference list are arranged in alphabetical order according to the family names of authors. Most undergraduate university assignments require a reference list. Compiling a reference list is a little different depending on what style you use. Always check your unit guide or with your unit chair to find out the preferred referencing style for your unit.   

How do I know whether a source from the internet is reliable or not?

Students should always be aware that the processes for publishing material on the web are often less rigorous than for print sources. Be wary of simply using Google to find information. This is not to say that you cannot source appropriate material online, but you should first:

How much can I quote? Is there a limit?

Direct quotes should in general be kept to a minimum and you should always have a clear purpose for using a quote. Use your own words where possible. Paraphrasing and summarising information in your own words shows a more sophisticated understanding of your topic. Critical analysis is an important academic skill in any field – try to present your own views of other writers' ideas, rather than simply repeating their ideas.

What is Turnitin and how do I use it?

Deakin University uses Turnitin, a software program that detects similarities in wording between assignments submitted and the program's database of published material. The program does not check for plagiarism – it simply allows you to check where plagiarism may have occurred. It is important to first understand how to avoid plagiarism, as well as the rules of referencing.

To find out more, practise using Turnitin in UniStart.

How do I reference online sources that give very little publication details?

Referencing standards for online sources are still evolving and you can often find conflicting advice about how to format them. This can be very confusing and frustrating when you really just need a quick answer!

It is quite possible that you have an online source that does not fit into any of the listed categories in this guide and that you are left with no clear answers as to how to reference it. If this is the case, here are some suggested steps:

  1. Always consult your unit guide first, which may recommend a style that is slightly different from the styles set out in this referencing guide. Also keep in mind that some forms of online sources may not be acceptable for use in your unit.
  2. Gather as much bibliographic information on your source as you can – it is always best to provide details more rather than less. Many webpages do not have an obvious author, date or even title. Be sure to look in the header or footer for this sort of information, for example, the authoring organisation of the webpage and 'last updated/revised' date (often found at the bottom of the page).
  3. Consult the required style in this online referencing guide. Sometimes the answer will be clearly provided in the guide, but at other times you may have to look at more than one section to find out the most appropriate way to reference.
    For example, if you have an online source with few publication details and your required style is Harvard, it might be useful to look at the sections General principles: No author and General principles: No date. But you might also need to look at Web, audiovisual: Webpage or document from a website to find more specific information on citing a webpage. You might then need to ask yourself: is this in a webpage or is it in fact an online article, a blog or a social media site? There may be more specific information in this guide on these types of online sources.
  4. If you still have any further questions about how to reference, seek advice from academic staff within your unit, a Writing Mentor or a Language and Learning Adviser.

What should I do when the referencing guide does not have an example of the type of source I want to reference?

The referencing guide does not attempt to give examples of every possible source that students may need to reference. If your source is not among the examples given in the guide, you may need to combine elements of two or more examples.

Let's say for example that you want to reference a chapter in an e-book. The e-book is an edited book containing chapters written by different authors – but there is no example for this type of source in the referencing guide. What you need to do is combine the elements of two examples that are provided and that are relevant for your source: Chapter in an edited book and e-book.

In other cases you may also need to look at the General principles section under headings such as No author or No date, as well examples of specific source types.

What level of detail of referencing is required to attain an HD?

Appropriate and correct referencing alone will not gain you an HD, but in order to get one, your referencing will normally need to be excellent. Here are some tips:

  • Follow the requirements as set out in your unit guide and then follow the appropriate online Deakin referencing guide as closely as you can.
  • Be as consistent as possible when adhering to a style.
  • Within the specifications of the style, it is always best to provide more bibliographic information rather than less.
  • If needed, consult your lecturer, tutor, a Writing Mentor, or a Language and Learning Adviser for further advice.

What is the difference between a primary and secondary source?

To cite an author is who citing another author, provide the family names of the authors of both the primary and secondary sources in-text. The secondary source is the source that you have read, while the primary source is the source cited within this secondary source.

Here is an example using the Harvard style. Donato is the primary source. Cotterall and Cohen is the secondary source:

Donato (cited in Cotterall & Cohen 2003, p. 158) explains the concept of scaffolding, which supports learners as they extend their competence and skills.

In this example, only Cotterall and Cohen would be included in the reference list, as this is the source that you have read.

Cotterall, S & Cohen, R 2003, 'Scaffolding for second language writers: producing an academic essay', ELT Journal, vol. 57, no. 2, pp. 158–66.

Note: IEEE style does not permit citing secondary sources; and Chicago style recommends reading and citing the primary source where possible.

See your specific referencing style guide for further details

I only have one source to cite. Is that enough?

When writing at university, using just one source is not common. Students are required to come to a balanced point of view on an issue, and consulting just one source is not sufficient to do this.

The number of quotes and references you need to use will depend on your assignment. Refer to your unit guide or ask your lecturer/unit chair for the recommended number of references to include.

What is an in-text citation?

An in-text citation is the acknowledgement of a source in the body of a paper. In the APA and Harvard styles, the family name of the author(s), the year of publication, and sometimes the page number, are provided.

Here is an example using the Harvard style of referencing:

The most important effects are 'provided by the use of pitch or melody' (Crystal 1987, p. 169).

Check your unit guide to find out the preferred referencing style for your unit.

What does it mean if an article has been 'peer reviewed'?

If an article is published in a peer-reviewed journal, it has been read by a board of scholarly expert reviewers and had the quality of its research and adherence to editorial standards thoroughly checked. This usually makes it a reputable source to reference.

You can check a journal to see whether or not it is peer reviewed, or you may be able to limit the search of an article database to only show peer-reviewed articles.

If you are still unsure or require further information, talk to your Liaison Librarian.

Page custodian: Division of Student Life
Last updated: