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What is referencing?

Referencing is a standardised method of formatting the information sources you have used in your assignments or written work. Any given referencing style serves two purposes:

  1. acknowledges the source
  2. allows the reader to trace the source.

USQ referencing styles

The Library provides guides and support only for Harvard AGPS and APA referencing styles. For advice on using any other style recommended for your course, please contact your course examiner or tutor.

Support for AGLC is available from your course examiner in the Law School of the Faculty of Business, Education, Law and Arts.

If you have any doubts as to the referencing style you are required to use, consult your course examiner.

Other referencing styles

Some disciplines may require other referencing styles. In these cases, support is available from your course examiner. Examples of such styles include:

  • ACS (American Chemical Society)
  • IEEE (Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers)
  • MLA (Modern Language Association of America)
  • Oxford

The bibliographical software EndNote, has versions of these styles.

My Library Research (Arts) also lists guides to MLA and Oxford that are acceptable to the relevant course examiners. These can be found on your course's StudyDesk, via UConnect.

If you have any doubts as to the referencing style you are required to use, consult your course examiner.

Why do I have to reference?

Failure to reference, or poor referencing can be classified as Academic Misconduct. It is a standard required of scholarly communication. It is also a standard for written communication expected by professional organisations where you will eventually be employed.


  • shows adherence to academic writing standards
  • shows respect for and acknowledges the work of any scholars (thereby avoiding plagiarism
  • provides evidence that you have read and considered the relevant literature
  • allows validation and confirmation of sources used in your work, and
  • gives your work credibility.

Avoiding plagiarism is the individual's responsibility, and there are penalties for failing to do so. In professional life, you will find that plagiarism can have serious effects on your reputation and that of your colleagues and employer. It may prompt legal action from the copyright owner of any work that is not acknowledged.

What needs referencing?

A reference or citation is required when you:

  • cite by quoting any person word for word (direct quotation). It doesn't matter whether it is a phrase, sentence or paragraph, you will need to provide a reference to the source
  • cite by paraphrasing or summarising ideas or data obtained from another source
  • use statistics in your work obtained from another source (e.g. population, results of surveys)
  • use tables, figures, diagrams or images created by someone else
  • use controversial facts, opinions, or dates from another source.

Information of a general nature such as facts which are common knowledge (e.g. the years of World War II) are not referenced.

Otherwise, you will need to reference any ideas or data you have used which are not your own.

Please note: It is just as important to cite electronic sources as it is to reference print materials since they are all forms of information generated by an individual or an organisation, and as such are covered by copyright law.

How do I reference?

  1. As you work on your assignment, you will need to record and keep the details of each source as you use it (this includes details such as author, title, publication date, publisher, place of publication, journal title, volume, issue, page numbers, date viewed or accessed, URL, database, etc.).
  2. In-text citations: Both the Harvard AGPS and APA referencing styles used at USQ are author-date styles. The in-text citations will consist mainly of the authors' surnames and the year (and page numbers if appropriate). If there is no discernable author, the title and date are used. Examples can be found in the guides on this site. 
  3. List of references: More comprehensive details for each source are put in the list of references at the end of the assignment. This allows the reader to trace and verify your sources. Examples showing the amount of detail required and how to format each source can be found in the guides on this site.

Need help applying referencing styles?

While we do not proofread lists of references for students, we can provide you with referencing guides on this site and the published manuals below to help you ensure the accuracy of your referencing.

  • For Harvard AGPS and APA style guide enquiries contact a campus Library
  • For AGLC style guide enquiries, contact the appropriate academic staff or the Liaison Librarian (Law).
  • For any other styles, please contact the appropriate academic staff.

Referencing style manuals at USQ Library

These include: 

  • Style manual for authors,editors and printers (6th ed.). This includes the Harvard AGPS Style. The call number is 808.02 Sty. 
  • Publication manual of the American Psychological Association (6th ed.). This includes the APA style. The call number is 808.06615 Pub. The Library also holds copies of the APA style guide to electronic references at 808.06615 Apa.

More resources can be found by checking the Library catalogue using searches like 'citation style' and 'assignment writing'.

Additional tips on assignment writing, referencing and research skills can also be found via the Learning Centre or the Library's Finding Information Tutorial.