Skip to content

Toggle service links

Referencing and plagiarism

Home Help and Support Referencing and plagiarism

What is referencing and plagiarism?

When you reference it means you acknowledge other peoples’ work and the reader can locate the sources you have used. Referencing is one aspect of developing good academic practice, an essential skill to learn at University. Referencing your sources also means you can avoid plagiarising the work of others.

Referencing styles used at the OU

Always refer to your module materials to check which referencing style to use for your assignment, or ask your tutor for advice if you're not sure. Listed below are some guides which show you how to use referencing styles common in OU modules.

OU Harvard

Until October 2020 most modules are using the OU Harvard referencing style. The OU Harvard guide to citing references (requires login) provides practical advice and examples to help you create references in the Open University (OU) Harvard style. The PDF version of the OU Harvard guide does not require login.

2019 October – Piloting of a new referencing style

The Open University is transitioning to an externally provided, online resource for referencing called Cite Them Right.

A111, A233, DD126, BXY134, B870, B872, B873, TB871, Y031, Y032, Y033

From October 2019 the modules A111, A233, DD126, BXY134, B870, B872, B873, TB871, Y031, Y032, Y033 will be piloting the Cite Them Right version of Harvard. If your module is not one of these then please continue to use OU Harvard.

What is Cite Them Right?

Cite Them Right is an online resource that gives detailed referencing guidance for a wide range of sources and includes an extensive help and support section. It is easy to use: just select the type of source you want to reference, choose Harvard from the drop-down menu, and an in-text and full reference example will be displayed. Cite Them Right is regularly updated to reflect the variety of sources that can be referenced in academic work.

The Cite Them Right version of Harvard is widely available in reference management tools, enabling you to automatically create reference lists if you use one of these tools. There is a Quick guide to Harvard referencing, based on the Cite Them Right version, which includes advice on referencing OU module materials. The Library has also created additional guidance showing which sections of Cite Them Right you might want to use when referencing physical and online module material.

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 Basic guide to referencing which includes information such as:

  • How to set out citations
  • Difference between reference list and in-text citing

The OU Library has developed Being Digital, a 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. For example:

Useful links