What is referencing and why do I need to do it?

Referencing is a crucial part of academic writing. Referencing demonstrates your academic development and establishes authority, allowing you to support claims in your discussion.  It is very important to learn how to reference in order to avoid plagiarism.

There are two parts to referencing:

The main referencing styles used at Abertay are:

OSCOLA - for students studying Law

Students Studying Law modules should use OSCOLA referencing.

Students Studying Law modules should use OSCOLA referencing. 

Guides to OSCOLA:

  • Students should read the Law Division's short guide to OSCOLA first and use this as the definitive guide to law referencing at Abertay. 
  • The complete OSCOLA guide (4th edition) is also available.
  • There are instructions for referencing books, journals, websites, cases and legislation in the OSCOLA style in StudySkills@Abertay.

American Psychological Association (APA)

APA - for students studying Psychology

Students studying Psychology should use the American Psychology Association (APA) referencing style.

Guides to APA

Or, alternatively, print resources are also available:
  • The 6th edition of the Publication Manual of the American Psychological Association is available in the Library at shelfmark 808.066 PUB
  • And the Pocket Guide to APA Style, shelved at 808.066 PER.


Most programmes and modules (except Psychology and Law) will require you to use the Harvard style of referencing. 

Abertay University made some changes to the version of Harvard it uses with effect from academic year 2017-18. We now use a more generally accepted version based on Cite Them Right, rather than a version specific to Abertay.  

We've produced a quick guide, or for more comprehensive help, copies of Cite Them Right are available to borrow from 808.027 PEA. 

Guides to Harvard

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Other resources