The top 5 things to know about referencing

We know that referencing in your work can be daunting, but don’t panic! The OU Library is always here to help.


Referencing is when you acknowledge other peoples’ work and allow the reader 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, but there are different types of referencing style in use across academia. 

You may have heard that, apart from Law modules, the whole OU has been moving referencing guidance from OU Harvard to Cite Them Right Harvard. Once the transition is complete, almost all tutors, staff and students will be using the same referencing guidance whatever the module. 

Image via Jarmoluk on Pixabay.com

The differences between OU Harvard and Cite Them Right Harvard are minimal, so if you have already been studying with us don’t worry, you will not have to learn a drastically different referencing style. Plus, the Library has a Quick Guide to Harvard Referencing that is packed with helpful examples on how to reference a variety of sources, from module websites to journal articles. 

Here are the top 5 things to LOVE about the Cite Them Right referencing style 
  1. Using Cite Them Right Harvard across the OU means you will have the same referencing guidance across your modules making for a consistent experience 

  1. The Cite Them Right online guidance is user-friendly, practical and contains tutorials on referencing fundamentals and formatting 

  1. Cite Them Right is widely used and highly regarded in Higher Education  

  1. Cite Them Right is regularly updated to reflect new sources of information that can be referenced in your work 

  1. Cite Them Right is also available in reference management tools like Mendeley so you can automatically generate your reference list 

During this 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 or OU Harvard unless the assignment says you must use OU Harvard.  

Help and support available  

Not quite sure what to make of it all? Don’t worry, there’s plenty of help and support guidance available to help you! The Cite Them Right online guide has lots of examples of how to cite different items and helpful tutorials you can watch any time.  

If you can’t find what you need in the Cite Them Right guide, you can check your module for guidance or ask your tutor. 

And don’t forget you can also get help from the OU Library. Our Helpdesk is open 24 hours a day, 7 days a week! We also have videos, which you can access at any time, and live online tutorials about the how’s and whys of referencing.  

Learn more at:  

Referencing and Plagiarism – Information from the OU Library on how to reference at the OU and avoid plagiarism  

Quick tour of Cite Them Right – Short video providing a tour of Cite Them Right and how to use it to find examples for references  

Your 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. 

Online training for referencing – Check the current schedule for online, interactive training with OU Librarians covering lots of topics to improve your research skills.  

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

Which aspects of referencing do you struggle to get your head around? Share them with us in the comments below!  


The Library Services website is your gateway to a wide range of online information resources. You can use it to find out more about the Library, search our extensive online collection of Library resources (including eBooks, journals, databases and more), and explore our programme of live online training sessions that are available to all OU students and staff. Or indeed, come and speak with us at the Helpdesk: we look forward to it. 


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