NSC1210 Skills for the Scientist: Referencing

This guide contains key resources for research and critical evaluation of scientific sources of information.

On this page

This page provides tips on using internet resources at university and a list of useful web resources for this unit.

Why do I need to reference?

It is an expected academic practice that students will refer to (or cite) the sources of ideas, facts, data, research and other evidence in written assignments. Referencing is the practice of acknowledging in your own writing the intellectual work of others; work that has been presented in some way into the public domain. 

The basic principle of referencing is to support and identify the evidence you use in your assignments by directing readers of your work to the source of evidence. This can be done by providing (or ‘citing’) the name of the source in the main text of your work, whilst the full source detail is given later, in an alphabetical list at the end of the assignment.


Neville, C 2010, The complete guide to referencing and avoiding plagiarism, 2nd ed, McGraw-Hill Education, Maidenhead.

Harvard referencing

As you are required to follow the Harvard referencing style (an author-date referencing system) in this unit, in the text of an assignment the ideas taken from other people are indicated by placing the author's surname and the date of publication in square brackets, e.g. (Anderson 2017). The reference list (or bibliography) provided at the end of the paper then lists the references in the alphabetical order by authors' surnames. Alphabetise the reference list taking into the account the surnames of the first authors of used sources.

Referencing involves:

- quoting other people's ideas (word for word, by using direct quotes).

- paraphrasing (expressing other authors' ideas by using your own words).

There is a guide for referencing according to the Victoria University Harvard referencing style. This guide is based on the AGPS Style manual for authors, editors and printers, 2002, 6th edn. This guide, with its in-text and reference list examples for different types of sources, will help you apply the VU Harvard referencing style to your writing.

More information on referencing and avoiding plagiarism can be accessed through  VU's Referencing and Plagiarism guide.

Harvard referencing: the basics video

View the transcript for the video Harvard referencing the basics

Make sure you access and check our other videos on referencing specific types of sources in the Harvard Referencing guide.

Harvard referencing quiz

Take this quiz to test how much you've learnt about Harvard referencing.