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Referencing and plagiarism

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What is referencing and plagiarism?

Referencing is when you acknowledge other peoples’ work and provide the reader with enough information to locate the sources you have used. Plagiarism happens when a student submits an assignment that contains work that is not their own, without acknowledging their sources in the form of references. Referencing is one aspect of developing good academic practice, an essential skill to learn at University.

From October 2020 the OU started to implement Cite Them Right Harvard referencing guidance, which will eventually replace OU Harvard across most modules.

During the transition you may see Cite Them Right Harvard or OU Harvard referencing guidance in your module.

  • If your module has switched to Cite Them Right Harvard, use that guidance.
  • If it still points to OU Harvard guidance, you can use either Cite Them Right Harvard or OU Harvard unless an assignment says you must use OU Harvard.
  • For those studying a Law undergraduate module, see the Quick guide to Cite Them Right referencing for Law modules for assistance with using Cite Them Right Harvard and OSCOLA.

Cite Them Right (CTR)

Cite Them Right (CTR) is an online referencing guide containing various referencing styles, with guidance on how to use them. It has lots of examples of how to cite different items and helpful tutorials you can watch any time.

Referencing OU module material

Need guidance referencing OU module material? Check out which sections of Cite Them Right to use when referencing physical and online module material.

Cite Them Right is:

  • user-friendly, practical and contains tutorials on referencing fundamentals and formatting
  • widely used and highly regarded in Higher Education
  • regularly updated to reflect new sources of information that can be referenced in your work
  • available in reference management tools like Mendeley so you can automatically generate your reference list.

The Library has a Quick guide to Harvard referencing for use with Cite Them Right, which includes advice on referencing OU module materials. There is also a YouTube Quick Guide to Cite Them Right video available.

OU Harvard

If your module is still using OU Harvard, you can choose whether to use OU Harvard or Cite Them Right Harvard, unless an assignment says that you must use OU Harvard.

The OU Harvard guide to citing references (requires login) provides practical advice and examples to help you create references in this style.

Getting help with referencing

If you can't find what you need in the Cite Them Right Harvard or OU Harvard guide, you can check your module for guidance or ask your tutor. Don't forget you can also get help from the OU Library. We have a Library Helpdesk open 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. We also have videos and live online tutorials about the hows and whys of referencing. For more details, see the Training and events page.

You may also find the following resources helpful:

  • Quick Tour of Cite Them Right - Short video introducing you to Cite Them Right Harvard
  • Top 5 Questions Answered! - These five short videos feature OU Associate Lecturers and students in conversation. They talk about the changes to referencing and answer some big questions about Cite Them Right and referencing. 

Other referencing styles used at the OU

Additional guidance is available for disabled students on referencing accessible formats.

The Bibliographic Management page will tell you about tools you can use to track and organise your references.

Want to know more about referencing and plagiarism?

Cite Them Right has a 'Basics of referencing' section, which includes information such as:

  • How to set out citations
  • The difference between reference list and in-text citing.

Being Digital, is an online collection of short easy-to-follow activities. Being Digital provides resources to help you to avoid plagiarism and show you how to include in-text citations and reference lists within your written work.