Writing at university may involve researching the ideas of other people, which you can combine with your own ideas and conclusions. Learning to acknowledge other people through in-text citing or footnotes in addition to providing a reference list will help differentiate between their ideas and your own.
This is central to the idea of academic honesty in Western academic institutions.
So why reference?
- To show respect for the original source. Using someone else's work as your own without properly acknowledging it is considered intellectual theft.
- To demonstrate that you have done the research. Your teachers want to see that you have considered the experts when forming the basis of your arguments.
- To show what research you've done. Your teacher must assess the quality of your research. Accurate referencing following a specific style will enable the reader to easily locate and verify your research.
- To avoid plagiarism. Failure to properly acknowledge when you have used the work of others means you are implying that the idea or words are yours. This is plagiarism and the consequences may affect your academic progress at university.
Read the VU Academic Integrity and Preventing Plagiarism Policy for more details.