Referencing and Plagiarism

Referencing is one of the most important aspects of writing in a university context.

Why reference?

  • Referencing is directly linked to the most important function of universities: to develop knowledge and understanding through research and public debate
  • You can only develop new knowledge about a particular topic if you know what the current knowledge is.
  • Writing at university is a process of building new knowledge or thinking of new ways of looking at problems or issues and communicating this to others.
  • This applies not only to what university lecturers do but also to what students are expected to do at university, and it makes learning at university different from learning at school or TAFE. You are not just learning to reproduce knowledge; you are learning to develop and build on previous knowledge.
  • Referencing properly is very important in this process, because to critique someone else's opinion or to agree with someone else's opinion or findings, you first have to acknowledge and be clear on whose opinion it is, so that others who read your opinion can refer back to the original source. Referencing is the accepted way of doing this in a university context.


The term "plagiarism" includes, but is not limited to, the use, by paraphrase or direct quotation, of the published or unpublished work of another person without full and clear acknowledgement. Plagiarism is the action or attempt to take and use or present another person's thoughts, writing, ideas or work as their own to gain or produce unfair advantage.