Referencing using APA/Resources/Introduction

From WikiEducator
Jump to: navigation, search


When you write essays or reports, you are expected to do research. The ideas and information you gain from your reading are used in your writing to develop your ideas, to support your arguments, and to prove what you are claiming.

Lecturers are very interested in the research that you do because it shows that you are learning material relevant to your programme and are developing your own opinions. You also need to show that you are aware of the major areas of thought in your specific subject. Your lecturers also like to see evidence that you have read around the subject, and not just confined your reading to one textbook or lecture notes.

The object of academic writing is, therefore, for you to present your ideas in your own way. To help you do this, however, you will need to use the ideas of other people and when you do this, you need to say where the words and ideas are from.

It is difficult sometimes to know whether something is common knowledge in your subject or needs acknowledging. In general, if your lecturers, in lectures or handouts, do not acknowledge the source, you can assume that it is common knowledge within your subject. (Gillett, 2007).

This information was adapted from Andy Gillett, “Using English for Academic PurposesA Guide for Students in Higher Education”, 2007,, and was accessed on 12.1.07

How would you write a citation in a reference list for this information?

If you think you know, write out the citation then click here to see the answer.

How do I reference?

To report the words and ideas of others, you can either paraphrase if you want to keep the length roughly the same, summarise if you want to make the text shorter, or quote if you are going to use an author’s words exactly as s/he wrote them.

These skills will be addressed farther in this unit.

When acknowledging the words or ideas of others, you need to include a citation in the text, and a citation in the reference list which is at the end of your text.

Here is a sample of an essay. The author has used information from a variety of sources using paraphrasing, summarising, and quoting skills. Notice how the writer shows the reader where words and ideas from other people are included in the essay. Look carefully how the names of the authors the writer refers to are also in the reference list at the end of the essay.

If you fail to acknowledge the words or ideas of other people and incorporate them into your writing as if they were your own, then you may be accused of plagiarism.


  • Marc Doesburg, Otago Polytechnic, 2007
  • David McQuillan, Otago Polytechnic, 2007