Cite it right and avoid unintentional plagiarism

You may think that advice on avoiding plagiarism doesn’t apply to you, because you’re not planning to buy an essay from the internet, or copy someone else’s work. But you may not be aware that it is possible to plagiarise unintentionally if:

  • you’re not aware of the differences between referencing at university and any referencing you may have been used to doing previously;
  • you haven’t been meticulous about keeping records of your reading;
  • you don’t know how to use references in your academic writing to support your discussion and critical analysis.

It’s important to take referencing seriously and not just guess, or assume that you know how to do it. The consequences can be serious with marks deducted – it can even lead to accusations of academic misconduct.

However, it can be confusing when you have advice and guidance on referencing from so many different sources. It’s tempting to just Google it! But that’s far less likely to give you the right answer than guidance produced at your own university. You should always check your own Course Handbook first for advice (it will be on Blackboard).

Our Citing References guide combines previous guidance from the Library and Study Advice to cover the why, what, when and how of referencing in a single place. Study Advice video tutorials on referencing are embedded in the guide, which includes:

You could also look at The Academic Integrity Toolkit, which shows how understanding referencing is an important part of studying at university and ‘becoming a graduate’ generally. The Toolkit includes tips, explanations and exercises (with answers) to help you develop your understanding of essential skills including:

If you’re a Part 1 undergraduate and have enrolled on Study Smart, you could also go back over the relevant guidance in Week 1.

The guidance below focuses on three important points to help you avoid unintentional plagiarism.

References in a footnote1.Know when to include a reference

Whenever you include an idea that you have gained from your reading in an assignment, you must ensure that you reference it correctly, both in the text and at the end in your reference list or bibliography. If you use the original words you have found in your reading, you must mark them with quotation marks, even if you only use part of the sentence. It is not enough to give the details of where the words came from; they must be marked out, or it will look as if you are claiming them as your own words. If you are writing the idea up in your own words, don’t be tempted to just change a few words. If you use quotations inadequately or paraphrase badly it will certainly be viewed as poor academic practice and may subject your work to penalties. It may even be seen as plagiarism.

Watch this brief video tutorial on using paraphrases.

See Library and Study Advice guidance on using quotes and paraphrases.

2. Develop good note-taking practices

Ever looked at your notes and thought, “I wonder where that came from?” or “I wonder if those are my words or copied from the text?” It’s frustrating when you can’t be sure – but it could cause you problems if you use the material without being able to reference it accurately. To avoid this, make it a habit to have good record-keeping practices. Always note the details of each text you use (author, title, year) when you start writing notes on your reading; include page numbers as you go along, even if you are not copying text directly but writing the ideas in your own words; have a system of markers to indicate if something is a quote (put in quotation marks), an idea explained in your own words, or a query or new idea stemming from what you’re read (perhaps an asterisk *). The Study Advisers have guidance on effective note-taking and a brief video tutorial on critical note-taking with more suggestions.

If you’re using an e-book, you may be able to make notes electronically as you’re reading the text. See the section in our LibGuide on Studying with e-books for more information. If you have an online reading list, you can also make brief notes on this – our LibGuide page on What else can I do with my list? has details.

You might also consider using reference management software to keep details of your reading including all the bibliographic information. EndNote and Mendeley work with Word to create citations and bibliographies for you.

3. Know what to do if you can’t find all the details of a reference

bibliographic details screencast screencapIf you have a quote but don’t know where it came from, try typing it into Google. You may find it’s better to use a short phrase rather than the whole quote; try to find a grouping of words that is less common. If you have some details of the text, you could try looking at your reading list or searching the Library catalogue. You can also look back through your Library account to see the titles of books you’ve borrowed. If you have the author and title of a journal article or even just the title of the journal and a date it may be possible to find the complete reference in Summon or one of the Library’s databases. What you must never do is invent details, or include things in your assignment if you cannot be sure about the source. This may lead to accusations of academic misconduct.

For more help watch this brief video tutorial on how to find bibliographic details.

Need more help?

If you’re still confused, or you have a specific question about referencing that isn’t answered in our guide, you can always contact your Academic Liaison Librarian or the Study Advice team to discuss this in person. Just remember to do it in plenty of time – the day your assignment is due to be submitted is not ideal!

 

Download Desktop EndNote free to your own computer

Open laptopA change to the licence for EndNote means that it is now possible to download the full Desktop EndNote to your own computer saving you nearly £100. Just follow these steps:

  1. Go to the IT Self-Service Portal
  2. Select Place a Request
  3. Select User Support
  4. Finally select Software – EndNote
  5. Read and accept the terms and conditions

You will be sent an email containing a download link and product key.

Note that under the terms of the licence if you leave the University you must remove EndNote from your computer.

To find out more about this software and how to use it see our EndNote guide.

Jackie Skinner
Academic Liaison Librarian

 

Boost your referencing with EndNote or Mendeley

Student studying in the LibraryHave you been marked down for inconsistencies in referencing? Are you fed up with writing all of your references by hand? There are programs that can take the pain out of referencing by storing your references and helping you create bibliographies in Microsoft Word.

We’re running workshops throughout the year covering two of the options available – whether you’re working on essays, your dissertation, or starting your PhD, come along and find out how much time you can save! You can book onto either of these beginners’ sessions on RISIS under the Actions tab.

Desktop EndNote

Desktop EndNote is a comprehensive reference management system and is designed for postgraduate researchers and staff. You can download accurate references from many databases, such as Web of Science. Use the ‘Find Full-text’ feature to automatically download and attach PDFs for those references. In addition, you can select from thousands of referencing styles or create your own – great if you’re writing for publication. It’s free on all campus PCs through Apps Anywhere, and new this year you can download it free on your own computer via the IT Self-Service Portal. We’re running workshops at the following times this term:

  • Wed 6 November, 14:00-15:30
  • Wed 27 November, 14:00-15:30

There’s also an online version of EndNote which we recommend to undergraduates and masters students.

See our EndNote guide to find out more.

Mendeley

Mendeley is designed to make storing references and PDFs as simple as possible. We mainly recommend it for undergraduate and masters students. Its main feature is the ‘watched folder’ – any time you add a PDF to a selected folder, Mendeley will automatically retrieve the details. You can also drag and drop PDFs directly into your library or use its Web Importer for details of websites and other sources. If you work a lot with article PDFs, Mendeley is a good option for you. It has both online and desktop versions – both are free to use, but only the desktop version works with Microsoft Word. Workshops are taking place at the following times this term:

  • Wed 13 November, 14:00-15:30
  • Wed 4 December, 14:00-15:30

See our Mendeley guide to find out more.

Book your place

Sign up to any of these workshops through the Actions tab on RISIS. If you can’t make any of the specified sessions but would like to know more, take a look at our reference management guide or contact your Liaison Librarian.

Jackie Skinner
Academic Liaison Librarian

Delays to collection of closed access materials

Screenshot of the link to request closed access items on the catalogueYou may find that any Closed Access requests you make this week could be slightly delayed. Due to ongoing refurbishment works we are unable to access certain areas of our basement meaning that the collection of items from this area could take longer than usual.

We recommend that you wait for the confirmation email to tell you the request is ready for collection before visiting the Library to collect your requests.

Normal service should resume after this week, so please keep on placing your Closed Access requests as usual!

More information

For more information about placing requests see our website.

Polishing up your Masters dissertation

Students studying in the LibraryAs you get into the last few weeks of work on your Masters dissertation or major project, it should all be coming together. This post aims to give you the tools to get everything done in time – and make your dissertation a shining success!

Editing, proof-reading and referencing

At this stage, you should be starting to think about editing and proof-reading. It’s best not to leave this till the last minute as it’s rarely just a matter of checking your spelling. There may be missing citation details to find, arguments that would be better placed elsewhere, repetition to remove, and word count to reduce. All these things take more time than you think.

Study Advice have a guide on writing at Masters’ level which will help you to see what you need to aim at when editing your writing. There is also a guide on academic writing including tips for more effective proof-reading. If you have five minutes, you could watch one of their video tutorials on dissertations.

It can make a real difference to your mark to make sure your citations are all correct, complete and consistent. This can be a slow process so allow plenty of time. There is information about different referencing styles and how to reference more unusual sources in our Citing References guide. You could also look at the Study Advisers’ video tutorials on referencing. If you’re still not sure, ask your Academic Liaison Librarian or a Study Adviser.

Incomplete reference? What to do?

You may find you have a key piece of information, but not all the details you need for your bibliography. If you have some information, it still may be possible to find the complete reference.

For a journal article, try Summon or one of the Library’s databases; for a book, try checking your reading list, searching the Library catalogue, or a database specialising in books such as Worldcat or Library Hub Discover. You can also look back through your Library account to see the titles of books you’ve borrowed over the last 6 months.

If you want to use a direct quote from your reading but don’t know where it came from, try typing it into Google, framed with quotation marks e.g. “the City’s collusion with slavery”. Google will then search for the exact quotation. You may find it’s better to use a short phrase rather than a longer quote; try to find a grouping of words that stands out. What you must never do is invent details, or include things in your dissertation if you cannot be sure about the source. This may lead to accusations of academic misconduct.

For more help watch this brief video tutorial on how to find bibliographic details.

Get the edge with up-to-date information

The best dissertations include the most up-to-date research so, if you have time, you can check for recent publications that you may have missed in your literature review. Many databases allow you to re-run your search for an author or on a topic to find only the most recent items.

For example, Web of Science allows you to save your searches to re-run against the latest updates to its databases. You can also set up feeds and citation alerts so that you are notified when someone cites your key articles. Watch the saving your search and setting email alerts video for detailed instructions on how to do this.

This service isn’t only available in the sciences, however – you can set up alerts in services such as BrowZine to find the latest articles across all disciplines and subjects. Most databases will have this function available, but each one will work slightly differently. If you want to set up alerts for a particular database but aren’t sure how, get in touch with your Academic Liaison Librarian.

For more, see our further tips on keeping up to date.

Student studying in the LibraryStaying motivated

It can be difficult to motivate yourself to get to the finishing line, and it’s easy to underestimate how long the finishing touches may take. Breaking your remaining tasks down and setting deadlines to get each ticked off can help. You might turn these into a Gantt chart and pin it up on your wall, so you can see your targets at a glance. Study Advice have some further suggestions on staying motivated.

Layout and binding

Find out ahead of time what is expected in terms of layout and binding and you are likely to save yourself from last-minute panic. The Study Advice website has some general principles on finishing up. More specific information should be in your course or module handbook. It may also be possible to look at past dissertations in your department to see how they have laid out their work: ask your tutor.

You do not need to hard bind your work, but if you choose to do so, do be aware that you will have to leave considerably more time. The Library have teamed up with experienced university binders Hollingsworth & Moss to offer a hard and soft bound printing and binding service.

Acceptable binding styles include thermal binding with a hard or soft cover, spiral and comb binding. These can be done at many print shops with a little notice, including Mail Boxes Etc in the RUSU building on Whiteknights campus.

If you have any last-minute queries, you can always come and ask your Academic Liaison Librarian or a Study Adviser.

System upgrade 2 July – some services disrupted

Open laptop with notepadNext week we are upgrading our Library Management System. During the upgrade on Tuesday 2 July, between 19:00 and midnight, (after the Library buildings are closed) some services will be unavailable.

You will still be able to …

  • search the Library catalogue, Enterprise.
  • access all our E-resources – so any e-books or e-journals you find on the catalogue will still be available via the ‘Click here to access’ links.

But you won’t be able to …

The upgrade is planned to be finished by Wednesday 3 July, but the system will be ‘at risk’ for the rest of the week whilst our Systems Team make sure everything is working correctly.

Sam Tyler, Systems Manager

Tools to help you master referencing – workshops this term

A light bulb indicating an ideaHave you been marked down for inconsistencies in referencing? Are you fed up with writing all of your references for your dissertation by hand? There are programs that store your references and help you create bibliographies in Microsoft Word. We’re running sessions throughout the Summer Term covering a couple of options available – whether you’re preparing for your dissertation or starting your PhD, come along and find out how much time you can save! You can book onto any of these beginner sessions on RISIS under the Actions tab.

Mendeley

Mendeley is designed to make storing references as simple as possible. We mainly recommend it for undergraduate and masters students, but it can also be used by researchers. Its main feature is ‘watched folders’ – any time you add a PDF to a selected folder, Mendeley will automatically retrieve the details. You can also drag and drop PDFs directly into your library or use its Web Importer for details of websites and other sources. If you work a lot with PDFs, Mendeley is a good option for you. It has both online and desktop versions – both are free to use, but only the desktop version works with Microsoft Word. Workshops are taking place at the following times:

  • Wed 15 May, 14:00-15:00
  • Wed 29 May, 14:00-15:00

Desktop EndNote

Desktop EndNote has many more features than Mendeley and is designed for postgraduate researchers and staff. You can store a huge number of references and PDFs. In addition, you can select from thousands of referencing styles or create your own – great if you’re writing for publication. It’s free on all campus PCs through Apps Anywhere, but is costs around £96 to install on your own computer. We’re running workshops at the following times:

  • Wed 8 May, 14:00-16:00
  • Wed 22 May, 14:00-16:00

EndNote online

We’re not offering any workshops this term on EndNote online, but if you are interested in learning more about this free, web-based reference manager then take a look at our EndNote online guide. You can also contact your Liaison Librarian for 1-1 help.

Book your place

Sign up to any of our sessions through the Actions tab on RISIS. If you can’t make any of the specified sessions but would like to know more, take a look at our reference management guide or contact your Liaison Librarian.

Jackie Skinner, Liaison Librarian

Making the most of your Library – info tip

You don’t need to visit the Library to discover the range of resources we provide!

  • Need to know how to find things in the Library?
  • Unsure how to search for books and journals on Enterprise?
  • Need to find books on your subject which aren’t on your reading lists?

Try LibLearn!

LibLearn is an online course that you can do when you have time and at your own pace. It is available 24/7 via Blackboard, the University’s online learning system. Divided into three sections, LibLearn includes documents to read, and quizzes to test yourself on how much you’ve learnt and to provide more tips.

New to the University?

Then LibLearn One is for you. It will help you to:

  • find your way around the Library
  • search for books on your reading lists on Enterprise
  • locate books in the Library

Been at the University for a while or doing a Masters or PhD?

LibLearn Two and LibLearn Three will help you to:

  • find and access journals in the Library
  • find material on a subject using Enterprise and Summon
  • find academically reliable material on the web
  • evaluate what you find
  • understand the principles of copyright and referencing
  • develop effective search strategies
  • search databases for information, particularly journal articles

How do you access LibLearn?

  1. Go to the LibLearn course in Blackboard
  2. Click on the Enrol button on the left-hand-side of the screen
  3. Click on the submit button on the Self Enrolment screen and OK at the bottom of the next screen

You will now be taken to the course pages. Next time you log on to Blackboard the course will be in your list of  Courses in My modules.

Or watch one of our videos!

If you were unable to come to one of our ‘Finding your way’ workshops for new students, or just want to find out more about the Library and what we do, then check out our series of introductory videos.

Some of the videos currently available are:

Library staff…happy to help!

Although there is a wealth of information and help on our website, Library staff are here to help you, so please ask if you have any questions. You can always contact your subject liaison librarian for guidance on locating resources in your subject.

This is one of a series of tips to help save you time and effort finding or using information

This tip was written by Learning Support Co-ordinator Sally Smith.

New student? Make the most of your Library – info tip

Welcome to University of Reading Library!

We are here to support your studies, providing you with access to information – online, multimedia or printed – and the skills to make the most of it.

What you need to know

For a general intro, check out our guide for new students.

This year Library services are operating from two buildings. Study space and services are in the Library@URS Building, whilst printed materials are still available to borrow from the main Library building next door. The Library building also has some study space.Two students using laptops in the study space in the URS Building

Come to a ‘Finding your way’ session

Our interactive workshops run throughout Welcome Week and Week 1. Discover how to find books in the Library and borrow them, and have a tour of the services and facilities in the Library@URS Building. Each session lasts around one hour, but could save you a lot more time in the long run!

Visit our website to find out more and book your place.

Explore in Welcome Week

We are open through Welcome Week, so why not explore before all the other students return? Between 09:00 and 17:00 you can:Students outside the URS Building

  • Visit the Library to find resources for your subject – pick up a guide to your subject there and pick up some freebies.
  • Pop in to the Library@URS next door to discover your favourite study areas on the 2nd Floor and the largest PC facility in the University on the Ground Floor (along with IT help from the Service Desk).
  • Meet Study Advice and Maths Support on the Ground Floor of the Library@URS and pick up a free planner to organise your new University life!

Visit us in the Marquee

On Tuesday 25 September, Library staff and the Study Advice and Maths Support teams will be in the Marquee for the Academic Success Fair. Please pop in and have a chat with us about how we can support your studies. We’ll have freebies and a photo booth too!

Explore our online help

We’ve got lots of resources on our website to support your studies and develop your skills.

Get individual help

Liaison librariansYour friendly subject liaison librarian will be happy to give you individual help with any subject-related enquiries, or questions about the Library. You might also see yours as part of a Library session organised by your Department.

For one-to-one help with study skills contact the Study Advice Team.

Prepare yourself for life at university

Have you completed the Study Smart online course? This short course has been designed to help you make a smooth transition to University learning. It covers academic integrity, communicating at University and being an independent learner. Why not find time in Welcome Week to complete the course if you haven’t already done so? You should have received an e-mail with instructions on signing up – if not, contact Study Advice.

Find us on social media

Look out for our Finding Your Way tips throughout the Autumn Term on how to make the most of your Library. You’ll find them all on social media under the hashtag #FYWTips – feel free to add your own! We’re active on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram – we’d love for you to share how you’re getting on, and you can ask us questions there too!

This is one of a series of tips to help save you time and effort finding or using information

This tip was written by Learning Support Co-ordinator Sally Smith.

‘Bye, bye’ Folio and ‘Hello’ Large

Plan of the 3rd Floor showing the new, bright coloursOn Monday we will be updating the Library catalogue Enterprise to reflect the new clearer terminology we are adopting to help make the Library easier to use. Call Numbers will be changed to have new, more understandable prefixes:

  • Folio– will become Large–F
  • Periodical– will become Journals–PER or Journals–PER F
  • Middle Folio– will become Oversize–MF

These prefixes match the new colourful floor plans and labels we introduced earlier in the summer. We hope that the new, brighter colours for each section are more noticeable so that you are less likely to end up in the wrong place:

  • Books –  bright blue
  • Large – bright pink
  • Journals – orange
  • Teaching Practice – bright green
  • Oversize – dark grey

For more detail on all the changes we are making see our previous post.

Tell us what you think

During the coming term we will evaluating how well the new words and colours work for you. We’ll be employing various User Experience (UX) techniques to test them, but we would also like your feedback. If you have any comments about these changes please email signage co-ordinator Jackie Skinner, jackie.skinner@reading.ac.uk.

Jackie Skinner
for Paul Johnson (Associate Director, Collections, Research & Space)

Enterprise upgrade 16-17 July: some services disrupted

Computer keyboardThis summer we are upgrading Enterprise, our Library Catalogue, to give us a more robust, reliable system and take advantage of some new features. During the upgrade, on Monday 16 July, between 16:00 and midnight, some services will unavailable.

You will still be able to …

  • Search the old Library catalogue, Unicorn to access book locations and some e-resources.  Or use Summon for online access to journal articles, book chapters, and much more!
  • Pop into the Library to get books, or ask at the URS Information Desk about your account, paying fines etc. until 17:00.

But you won’t be able to …

  • Access your online Library account to renew your loans or pay fines.

The upgrade is planned to have finished by Tuesday 17 July, but we will still designate the system as ‘at risk’ on that day as the Systems Team test the upgrade. We will let you know if Enterprise will be unavailable for longer than initially planned.

Jackie Skinner, Web Manager for
Sam Tyler, Library Systems Manager

Library website changes coming soon!

We are making some improvements to the Library website in the coming weeks.

Restructured homepage

Firstly on Monday 11 June we will be launching a new version of the Library homepage. After consulting with students in a recent focus group we’re making some changes to:

  • Preview of the new homepagebring key links to the top of the page;
  • make it shorter by reducing the number of links on the page;
  • changing some of the terminology to make it easier to understand.

As part of this we’re introducing a new ‘Support for your studies’ section on the homepage which brings together links relating to subject support, study skills, and study space. We’re re-labelling the Enterprise and Summon search boxes to make it clearer what you find with each. The ‘Libraries beyond UoR’ section of the site will be renamed as ‘Other libraries & inter-library loans’ so that it is more self-explanatory.

Relaunching many of our guides

Early in July we will be relaunching a number of our guides in a new format. These will be more attractive and easier to navigate and will include new content in many cases. This will bring our general guides into line with the subject guides and the study advice guides, which have been successfully using the new format for a couple of years.

What do you think?

If you have any comments about these changes please contact Library Web Manager, Jackie Skinner by emailing jackie.skinner@reading.ac.uk.

Jackie Skinner, Library Web Manager & Liaison Librarian