This page has been created to help you develop your referencing skills and clarify why referencing is so important.

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Goldsmiths' Academic Departments differ on their reference and citation styles. Always consult with your tutors and check their requirements in your handbook or on

Why you need to reference

Thorough and accurate citation and referencing are essential when you refer to the work of others in assignments. It ensures that you use information ethically and responsibly and that you respect academic values. It also:

  • enables you to show the extent of your research by your use of a wide range of sources
  • strengthens your arguments by your use of good quality resources
  • acknowledges the work of others and their influences upon you
  • allows the reader, examiner or other researchers to locate, read and check your sources
  • helps you avoid plagiarism, which can have serious consequences

When you should reference

You should provide references when you are:

  • directly quoting from the text of another work
  • paraphrasing someone else's work, theories or ideas
  • using someone else's work when developing your ideas and arguments
  • indirectly referring to the text of other works
  • using illustrations, diagrams, tables or figures from other sources

If a fact is regarded as common knowledge, e.g. dates, events, (The Battle of Hastings was in 1066), you would not be expected to provide a reference. If in doubt, provide a reference.

Citation styles

There are various citation styles, but they normally fall into two categories:

  • name and date, e.g. Harvard - use the author's name and date in your parentheses in your in-text citation (Smith, 1989), then provide a separate list of the sources cited alphabetically by author at the end of your work
  • numeric, e.g. Chicago - your in-text citation will comprise a number that links to your footnotes/endnotes, like this [1]. You will also need to provide a full bibliography.

The most important thing to remember when referencing is to be consistent

Anthropology Harvard
Art Harvard
Computing IEEE
Cultural Studies Any - be consistent
Design Any - be consistent
Education Harvard
English and Creative Writing MHRA
Harvard for Linguistics students
History MHRA or Chicago (notes and bibliography version) 
Institute of Creative and Cultural Entrepreneurship Harvard
Institute of Management Studies Harvard
MSc Occupational Psychology uses APA
MCCS Any - be consistent
Music Chicago
Politics Harvard
Psychology APA
Social, Therapeutic and Community Studies Harvard
Sociology Harvard
Theatre and Performance MHRA or Chicago
Visual Cultures Chicago

Name and date systems

There is no standard definition of the Harvard referencing system and many variations have evolved. For a simple guide we recommend:

Pears, R. and Shields, G. (2013) Cite them right: the essential referencing guide. 10th edn. Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan

Print copies are available in the library, and we also have access to Cite Them Right online.

This is the citation style used by the American Psychological Association and widely used throughout Psychology. We have print copies of the manual in the library.

Publication Manual of the American Psychological Association by American Psychological Association

ISBN: 9781433832161

Publication Date: 2019

Seventh Edition

More information is available from APA or from Cite Them Right.

The main style guide to refer to is:

Modern Language Association of America. MLA handbook for writers of research papers. 7th ed., Modern Language Association of America, 2009

More information can be found using Cite Them Right, or using the guide produced by Purdue University, Indiana.

Numeric systems

The printed MHRA guide is available in the library:

Modern Humanities Research Association (2013) MHRA style guide: a handbook for authors and editors. (3rd ed). London: Modern Humanities Research Association

You can download the MHRA guide for free.. Dr Lucia Boldoni from the English and Comparative Literature Department has also produced a concise ECL MHRA Guide.

This is the citation style used by the Computing department. Consult the IEEE's referencing guidelines for how to reference.

This is a common citation style, used by the Music department. We have printed copies available in the library:

The Chicago Manual of Style. 16th ed. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.

There is an online version of the Chicago style.

Managing your references online

Reference management systems are time-saving tools that allow you to:

  • Collect and store references for the resources you read as you go
  • Manage and organise your references for different assignments or modules
  • Quickly add in-text citations into your assignments
  • Automatically generate a reference list from these in-text citations

Zotero is free open source reference management tool that is recommended and supported by the Library and Subject Librarians. Documentation is available on the Zotero website, and we've created our own brief video tutorials and Subject Librarians provide workshops as part of the Academic Skills Centre workshops.