The importance of referencing in university assignments

Referencing entails recording or citing all the information sources used in both academic and technical writing relative to applicable referencing conventions (Birrell at al., 2010, p. 49; Rizvi, 2005, p. 308). Here, note that the ideas and the work developed by the primary authors are used to inform the position and opinions of the secondary authors.

As a result, there is the paramount need for university students to acknowledge instances whereby they have used another author’s ideas, statistics, drawings, tables, diagrams, pictures, and direct quotations to develop their own academic pieces of writing (Birrell et al., 2010).

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Furthermore, instances whereby the secondary authors fail to acknowledge that they have used another author’s work may compromise the academic integrity of the secondary authors including facing lawsuits. This phenomenon is known as academic plagiarism, and it is punishable by learning institutions and law enforcers (Anyanwu, 2004).

Therefore, the importance of referencing in both academic and technical assignments cannot be overstated. There are different ways of recording and citing primary information sources in academic papers.

Here, the sources can be recorded in form of references (all the sources cited in the text or passage) or a bibliographic list (all the sources used to develop the whole academic passage or text) relative to the applicable referencing principles, the nature of academic sources, the frequency of citing, and the acceptable documentation styles (Rizvi, 2005, p. 309).

Additionally, referencing takes the form of endnotes, parentheses, and footnotes. In this essay, we will explore the importance of referencing in both academic and technical writing at the university or tertiary level.

The importance of academic referencing

In view of the foregoing discussions, it is obvious that referencing forms an integral part of the study skills, which should be made available to all students at a university and other tertiary levels of learning. Conversely, academic referencing is important in both academic and technical writing because it enables the student to record all the information sources used in a text or passage (Rizvi, 2005, p.309). In so doing, the author makes the sources available for future references just in case the student would need to expand on the ideas presented in the text or passage.

On the other hand, recording all the sources used in a text or passage enables the reader particularly the instructor to gain access to additional information from the primary source if need be. Furthermore, a record of the primary sources used in a text or passage enables other researchers who are using the same text or passage to contact the primary sources in order to retrieve additional data or to take note of the strengths and the limitations of the academic text or passage (Rizvi, 2005).

Moreover, referencing gives the students the opportunity to avoid instances of plagiarism in their academic and technical writing. As discussed in the foregoing paragraphs, plagiarism arises when one author uses another author’s ideas, pictures, diagrams, and quotations without proper acknowledgement relative to applicable referencing conventions. In so doing, the author runs the risk of compromising one’s academic integrity and facing tough lawsuits (Anyanwu, 2004).

Consequently, plagiarism has many negative implications particularly for university students because in many academic institutions, plagiarism in academic assignments leads to failed grades, academic warnings, academic suspensions, and in some cases, a student’s enrollment may be reviewed. However, students can avert the consequences associated with plagiarism through observing all the referencing conventions applicable at the university level in their academic assignments (Rizvi, 2005).

Furthermore, academic referencing reinforces one’s academic integrity and competencies in studying. From the discussions above, it is notable that there are many skills in different academic disciplines, which should be learnt in the course of a student’s life in the university.

For instance, studying at the university or tertiary level entails academic writing, using different referencing styles, carrying out research on various topics, and preparing presentations (Fry et al., 2009, p. 119). On the other hand, referencing informs different aspects of studying at the university or tertiary level.

As a result, referencing enables the students to appreciate the importance of acknowledging that not all ideas presented in academic writings are original, and thus, there is the need for students to use information from different sources to develop a coherent text or passage while maintaining their academic integrity.

Furthermore, studies note that through referencing, students get the opportunity to expand their own meta-cognition and self-efficacy in terms of reflecting on what they know, and what they can do to maintain their success in writing (Fry et al., 2009).


This essay explores the importance of referencing in academic assignments and writing. From the discussions above, it is worth noting that referencing entails the logical process of recording and citing all the information sources used in academic assignments and writing relative to the applicable referencing conventions.

Here, referencing can take the form of references or a bibliographic list. Additionally, referencing includes footnotes, parentheses, and endnotes that are used in academic and technical writing. On the other hand, academic referencing has many important purposes in academic assignments.

For instance, academic referencing enables a student to take note of all the sources used in a text or passage for future uses. In addition, referencing allows the students to avert instances of plagiarism in their academic assignments. Lastly, referencing is important to students because it enables them to expand their meta-cognition and self-efficacy in academic writing.

Reference list

Anyanwu, R., 2004. Lessons on plagiarism: issues for teachers and learners.

International Education Journal, 4(4), pp. 178-187.

Birrell, G., Taylor, H. & Ward, H., 2010. Succeeding on your primary PGCE. Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage Publications Inc.

Fry, H., Ketteridge, S. & Marshall, S., 2009. A handbook for teaching and learning in higher education: enhancing academic practice. 3rd ed. New York, NY: Routledge.

Rizvi, M.A., 2005. Effective technical communication. New Delhi: Tata McGraw-Hill Publishing Company Limited.


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