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Referencing and Avoiding Plagiarism: Home

Referencing advice and information

How to reference


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When writing a piece of work you will need to refer in your text to material written or produced by others. This procedure is called citing or referencing. Consistency and accuracy are important to enable readers to identify and locate the material to which you have referred. The same set of rules should be followed every time you cite a reference. Referencing systems usually provide for in-text citation and the creation of a bibliography to be appended to the end of your work. The systems in use at the National College of Ireland are the Harvard system, the American Psychological Association (APA) style, IEEE and the OSCOLA legal citation style. It depends on what course you are doing. Most students will be required to use Harvard, but students on Psychology courses employ the APA style, some computing students use IEEE and some legal modules employ OSCOLA. Please double check with your lecturer or supervisor which referencing system you should use. If you want to check out how to use a particular citation style click on the blue buttons above.


Academic Honesty

It is important to use one's own thoughts and materials when writing papers, taking exams and other academic related activities. This is the essence of academic honesty. Students are expected to give full credit for the borrowing of another person's thoughts and ideas. Intentional or unintentional use of another's thoughts and ideas, without acknowledging the source constitutes plagiarism.


Plagiarism is the act of representing as one's own original work, the creative works of another, without appropriate acknowledgement of the author or the source. Creative works may include published and unpublished written documents, interpretations, designs, sounds, images, photographs, computer software and ideas or ideological frameworks. These works may be in print or in any form of electronic media.

Examples of plagiarism

The following are examples of plagiarism if appropriate acknowledgement of the author or the source does not occur:

  • Copying directly from any part of a work by another
  • Copying ideas, concepts, research results, statistical material, computer programmes, designs, images, sounds, or text
  • Paraphrasing another's work too closely, with only minor changes, but with the essential meaning, form and/or progression of ideas maintained
  • Relying on a specific idea or interpretation which is not one's own, and which has not been properly cited
  • Piecing together the work of others from multiple sources, and representing them as original work
  • Presenting as independent work done in collaboration with others
  • Preparing an original and correctly referenced assignment and submitting part or all of the assignment twice for separate subjects/courses


Collusion in academic work is the presentation, by a student, of an assignment as their own which is in fact the result, in whole or part, of an unauthorised collaboration with another person or persons. Collusion involves the cooperation of two or more students in plagiarism. Both the student presenting the assignment and those knowingly supplying unauthorised material to that student are considered participants in the act of academic plagiarism.

Please note.  Plagiarism is serious academic misconduct, and the National College of Ireland has severe penalties in place for  instances where it has been proved that it has taken place. The college uses a plagiarism software package called Turnitin to help academic members of staff to detect these instances of plagiarism.

Occasionally students may accidently plagiarise, usually as a result of a lack of academic skills, inexperience, sloppy note taking etc. To prevent these instances please learn and follow the rules laid down in the appropriate citation system for your assignments, projects, theses etc.


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Keith Brittle
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