Referencing and its importance

Female student with a pile of books Referencing all your reading in your work demonstrates that you have conducted a thorough and appropriate literature search. 

Accurate referencing is commensurate with good academic practice and enhances the presentation of your work. It shows that your writing is based on knowledge and informed by appropriate academic reading.

You will need to use a referencing style to accurately acknowledge other people's work and ideas. The 2 styles most commonly used at Imperial are Harvard and Vancouver.

There are 2 parts to referencing:

  • Citing
  • Creating reference list

By using the correct style, you will ensure that anyone reading your work can trace the sources you have used in the development of your work, and give you credit for your research efforts and quality.

If you do not acknowledge another writer's work or ideas, you could be accused of plagiarism.

Reference management software

When you begin your research for any piece of work, it is important that you record the details of all the information you find. You will need these details to provide accurate references, and to enable you to locate the information again at a later date, should it be necessary to do so.

Reference management (or bibliographic) software allows you to manage all the references you need for your papers, reports, essays or thesis by enabling you to keep them in your own personal database or library. It allows you to:

  • search easily for a particular reference to which you need to refer back
  • print or save a list of references
  • insert citations into your document and automatically produce a bibliography in whatever style you require

Use our Reference management software comparison (pdf) to help you select the right reference management software package for you. If you require further advice, please contact your librarian.

We provide access, support and training for the following reference management packages:

We also provide access to the EndNote basic (EndNote online) web-based package.