As a student of the Open University, you are required to reference your sources using an appropriate referencing style. This is so the reader can follow up items you have referenced and see what you have based your argument on. In most cases, you will be asked to reference using the OU Harvard referencing style. However, you should always refer to your module materials or ask your tutor for advice.
Taking an organised approach with your references, by recording details of your sources, will help you to:
- keep track of the references you’ve gathered from different sources
- ensure that you have all the information you need to provide full and accurate references
- save time in locating reference details
- track down the original resource, if necessary
People develop their own methods for managing references, and you need to find a method that works for you (e.g. using referencing software, saving source details to a word processing file, using social bookmarking tools etc.). You will find more information about organising your references on the Bibliographic Management page.
Referencing correctly involves paraphrasing, using appropriate in-text citations, and including a complete reference list. Doing this will help you to avoid plagiarism. If you do not know who has written or published the content, or if it is current, then you should first consider if it is suitable for academic work.
Referencing styles used at the OU
- OU Harvard Guide (Open University – requires login)
- OU OSCOLA (Oxford University Standard for Citation of Legal Authorities – requires login)
- APA: American Psychological Association (OU Guidance – requires login)
- MLA: Modern Language Association (Online Writing Lab)
- MHRA: Modern Humanities Research Association
- Numerical Referencing (University of Worcester)
“Plagiarism is using the work of other people to gain some form of benefit, without formally acknowledging that the work came from someone else.”
Developing your skills
The Being digital website provides a number of resources to help you to avoid plagiarism, and shows you how to include in-text citations and reference lists within your written work.
- Avoiding plagiarism pathway
- Referencing your sources pathway, which includes an activity on Referencing websites