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What is referencing and why do I need to do it?

Referencing is a crucial part of academic writing. Referencing demonstrates your academic development and establishes authority, allowing you to support claims in your discussion.  It is very important to learn how to reference in order to avoid plagiarism.

There are two parts to referencing:

  • The citation or in-text citation. This identifies the reference in the text of your work and avoids plagiarism.
  • The reference list. At the end of your work, this is a detailed list of everything cited in your text allowing the reader to find your references.

The main referencing styles used at Abertay are:

OSCOLA - for students studying Law

Students Studying Law modules should use OSCOLA referencing. 

Guides to OSCOLA:

  • Students should read the Law Division's short guide to OSCOLA first and use this as the definitive guide to law referencing at Abertay. 
  • The complete OSCOLA guide (4th edition) is also available.
  • There are instructions for referencing books, journals, websites, cases and legislation in the OSCOLA style in StudySkills@Abertay.

American Psychological Association (APA) - for student studying Psychology

Students studying Psychology modules should use APA Referencing.

APA is a format of referencing that derives from the American Psychological Association (APA).  

Guides to APA:  

Or, alternatively, print resources are also available:
  • The 6th edition of the Publication Manual of the American Psychological Association is available in the Library at shelfmark 808.066 PUB. 
  • And the Pocket Guide to APA Style, shelved at 808.066 PER.

Harvard - for all other subject areas

Most programmes and modules (except Psychology and Law) will require you to use the Abertay Harvard style of referencing.

Guides to Harvard:

There is an Abertay Harvard style set up in RefWorks - the web-based reference management system.


Online information and interactive tutorials on IT, referencing, academic writing and more.


Learn more about how to manage your references using RefWorks.