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18 September 2020

Don’t lose easy marks on assignments – here’s five ways you can improve your referencing

It’s one of the most common things students have trouble with – referencing. While it’s an important element of all your assignments, it is also an essential process to help you build knowledge and succeed in your university studies.

‘Once you’ve mastered it, you will gain easy marks on your assignments as rubrics usually include marks for referencing,’ said Deakin student and Writing Mentor Claudia Filipic

So how can you become skilled at referencing? The Deakin Guide to Referencing is the place to start. It has information on how to reference, frequently asked questions (like ‘What is the difference between a bibliography and a reference list?’), instructions for referencing sources and dedicated sections on popular reference styles such as Harvard, APA or Oxford.

Do you already know all this but you’re still struggling? Not to worry – we’ve compiled five key tips shared by our Writing Mentors to help you improve your referencing skills.

1. List your references as you go

Noting down the referencing details of your sources as you research can save you time and effort. You could also write down specific details where necessary (like page or paragraph numbers), so that you do not need to revisit the source to find these details again. 

2. Write your references manually

Avoid tools like CiteThisForMe and referencing generators. Often, the formats are completely different from the ones set out in the Deakin Guide to Referencing (which is what you are being marked against). Even if you use EndNote to organise a large list of references, the Deakin Guide to Referencing should always be the final source you double-check your formats against. 

3. Be consistent with your format

Using the same rules throughout the entirety of your assessment is very important, so make sure all citations and references throughout your assessment are clear and consistent. It also makes your work easier to follow.

4. Learn how to referencing less conventional sources

When trying to reference a source that is not covered in the Deakin Guide to Referencing, try to use the referencing format that is the most similar to the one you are using. Be as logical with the format as possible. If you are still unsure, contact your tutor or Unit Chair for clarification.

5. Proofread your reference list

Before your final submission, make sure you dedicate time to proofreading your references and in-text citations. Have you included in-text citations every time you’ve used information from others? Have you been consistent with the referencing style? Unnecessary mistakes could cost you easy marks and affect the integrity of your work.

Could you use some extra help?

Referencing is tricky and takes time to learn. If you need further help, or want to talk about a different referencing style or an element of referencing that has you stuck, get in touch with Study Support.

You can drop-in and chat to a Writing Mentor in one of our interactive online drop-in sessions, or also get in touch via email for referencing questions and brief queries. Or, you can email or make an online appointment with a Language and Learning Adviser. Remember that learning to reference properly will not only help you with your current assignment, but all of the ones in the future too!

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