You are expected to acknowledge the books, journal articles and other sources of information that you use when preparing and completing your university work. This is done by briefly referring to (citing) the sources of information in the text of your work, and by producing a corresponding, alphabetical list of references (or a bibliography) at the end of your work.

Referencing demonstrates that you have done the following:

  • acknowledged your sources of information
  • read around the subject
  • taken on board related research
  • explored others' opinions
  • checked your facts
  • substantiated your arguments
  • come to your own conclusions

References also enable the reader to find your sources of information for themselves.

When to and how to reference

Each time you use someone else's ideas, words or facts, it is essential that you acknowledge this in your work. Not acknowledging other people's work is intellectually dishonest and can be illegal. It is known as plagiarism. You do not need to reference common knowledge, but you should reference things that you have personally read, seen or heard.

Please check with your faculty which referencing standard they want you to use. The following referencing styles are used at UWE Bristol:

On occasion you may find that the example given in the UWE Bristol Harvard A-Z does not give enough information for the reader to locate the file you used. In this instance you may need to use a ‘best fit’ approach and adapt the example.

Word count

  • In-text citations and quotations are included in your assignment's word count.
  • References, bibliographies and footnotes containing references are not included in the word count, unless it is clearly stated in the coursework instructions that the module is an exception to this rule.

Please consult the UWE Bristol Policies for further advice (includes the Word Count Policy document). 

Example reference

The below examples are in the UWE Bristol Harvard style.

Citing a source of information in your own text

The need for care and guidance (Pearson et al., 2007) is evident...

As Pearson et al. states (2007, p.72), "The basis of evidence-based practice is, of course, evidence."

The corresponding reference

Pearson, A., Field, J., Ford, D. and Jordan, Z. (2007) Evidence-Based Clinical Practice in Nursing and Health Care: Assimilating Research, Experience and Expertise. 2nd ed. Oxford: Blackwell Publishing.

Please note: You must put your italics, capitalisation and punctuation in the right place for all referencing styles.

Common terms


An alphabetical list of all the sources of information you have used in preparing your written piece of work, even if the sources are not referred to directly or cited within the text.

Your module handbook will tell you if you should include a bibliography. 


Acknowledging a source of information within the text of your work, ie an in-text citation.

Common knowledge

Common knowledge is information that most people would know without having to look up, eg the world is round.

However, what may be common in one culture, society or area of study may not be common to others outside of that group. When in doubt, reference your sources.


Plagiarism is presenting the ideas or discoveries of another as your own.


References are the details of your information sources, providing enough information to enable the reader to understand what you are referring to.

Reference list

A reference list is presented in alphabetical order by author (in cases where you have used an author more than once, the most recent reference should be listed first). It lists all the references you have cited directly in your written text. The reference list is usually found at the end of a piece of written work.

Teaching materials

View academic integrity, referencing and plagiarism resources for staff on the intranet (staff login required).

Other resources

This referencing tutorial provides an introduction to referencing and can help you to understand why it is important in academic work.