Image of a student working in the LibraryYou 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 and even accusations of academic misconduct. See the Library guide about referencing for more information about why it is important to reference correctly.

The Study Advisers have produced a brief video tutorial on Avoiding Unintentional Plagiarism. Their Study Guide on Avoiding Accidental Plagiarism also gives general advice on this.

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

Know when to include a reference

References in a footnoteWhenever 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. They may even be seen as plagiarism.

Watch this brief video tutorial on using paraphrases.

This Study Advice guide explains more about using references in your work.

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 it; add page numbers as you go along, even if you are not copying direct quotes; 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 a guide on Effective note-taking with more suggestions.

You might also consider using reference management software to keep details of your reading including all the bibliographic information. EndNote Web is a basic tool that works with Word to add citations to your written work and constructs a bibliography at the end. It is free too.  If you have a large number of references to manage you might chose the more sophisticated Desktop EndNote. For advice on which version to use, and for self-paced training guides on EndNote, or book to come to a training workshop, see the Library’s web pages.

What should you do if you can’t find all the details of a reference?

Slide from tutorial on finding bibliographic detailsIf 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 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?

While this guidance will help you to understand how to avoid plagiarism, it can be confusing if you’re studying modules in different departments. You can also contact your 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!

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

This tip was written by Helen Hathaway, Library Head of Academic Liaison and Support and Dr Kim Shahabudin, Study Adviser.

Results from a Summon searchSearch our new Summon discovery service to find full-text articles in all subjects.

Everything you find should be available to read as the results are limited to articles covered by the Library’s online journal subscriptions.

You will also find definitions from reliable encyclopedias and dictionaries, and a few online book chapters too!

Try it out now!

As this new service is too good to hide we have decided to make it available straight away, even though we are still in the process of setting it up. So please be aware that it is likely to change and that there might be some issues with logging in to resources.

Search Summon now!

At the moment there are links to Summon on the Library homepage and the Databases a-z page. This summer we will be redesigning the Library website, which will include adding the Summon search box to our homepage so that you can search it straight away.

Let us know what you think

We are keen to know what you think about Summon. So please use our brief feedback form to let us know, and to report any issues you might experience with accessing articles or any other aspect of Summon.

Jackie Skinner, Library Web Manager

Results on the new Web of ScienceSince the recent upgrade to Web of Science we’ve had a number of reports of people experiencing problems with browser compatibility. This seems to be an issue with Internet Explorer versions 10 and 11, which are not supported by the latest version of Web of Science.

If you have either of these installed we suggest that you use an alternative browser, such as Chrome or Firefox.

For more information see system requirements for Web of Science.

Jackie Skinner, Library Web Manager

RUSU Excellence Awards PosterHas a librarian, study adviser, maths support adviser, or IT helper in the Library made a big difference to you? Do you have a brilliant administrator, technician, personal tutor or lecturer, especially one who inspires you with research or cutting-edge technology?

Why not nominate staff you believe go above and beyond expectations to improve your teaching and learning experience at Reading for a RUSU Excellence Award? Categories are:

  • Support Staff Excellence Award
  • Personal Tutor Excellence Award
  • Technological Innovation in Teaching Excellence Award
  • Research Inspired Teaching Excellence Award
  • Lecturer Excellence Awards (one for each of the four faculties)

Nominations are open until Friday 7 February, so please take a few minutes to say ‘thank you’ to that person who went that extra mile!

Rachel Redrup, Library Marketing Co-ordinator
for RUSU





Student studyingThere are spaces still available on our EndNote Web workshops for undergraduates and masters students.

Come along to learn how to use EndNote Web to…

  • store details of the books and articles you read
  • download references from databases such as the Web of Science
  • insert citations in your Word documents
  • build a bibliography in a style of your choosing at the click of a button

Workshop times

Wednesday 29 January, 14:00 – 15:30

Wednesday 19 February, 14:00 – 15:30

Wednesday 5 March, 14:00 – 15:30

Book your place

Book your place via the ‘Library course bookings’ link on the RISISweb portal.

This workshop is part of the Student Training and Experience Programme (STEP) and counts towards the RED Award.

Jackie Skinner, Library Web Manager


studentsusinglaptop_bannerThe latest in our series of monthly ‘Info tips’ has been published on refreshing the skills you need for university online. Check out this feature for tips on how to develop your skills in areas such as finding information and academic writing.

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


Results on the new Web of ScienceThis weekend’s upgrade to Web of Knowledge has not only introduced a new interface, it has also led to a change of name.

Web of Knowledge has become the Web of Science, and the old Web of Science has become the Web of Science Core Collection. There have been a few additions to the content of the Web of Science Core Collection too.

Try out the new Web of Science now!

Content additions

The following new databases have been added to the Web of Science Core Collection:

  • Book Citation Index – Science
  • Book Citation Index – Social Sciences & Humanities
  • Current Chemical Reactions
  • Index Chemicus


The upgrade has introduced the following enhancements.

  • An updated user interface including clear identification of the database searched, with an easier-to-get-started search tool and simplified navigation.
  • Improved page layout and readability of search results with easier links to full-text. The ‘Search for item @ Reading’ button that you might have used previously to find the full article is now under a ‘Full Text’ button in your search results.
  • New layout of full record data elements for easier readability and improved organization of links to related research.

We are in the process of updating our webpages and guidance to reflect these changes.

Jackie Skinner, Library Web Manager

The recent Enterprise upgrade has added a new feature allowing you to see how many people are already waiting for a book before you place a hold.

When viewing the full record for a book, look for the number of ‘Holds’ displayed at the bottom of the book details, just above the list of copies (circled in red in the image below)

Full record display showing number of holds

What do I do if there are already holds on the book I need?

Take a look at the number of copies, and how soon they are due for return, to help you decide how quickly you might get the book if you were to place a hold. If you need the book urgently, you might then decide to use a Course Collection copy instead or check the catalogue for an e-book version you can read online.

For more information and guidance on getting hold of the books you need see our recent info tip.

Please note that recent upgrade has also moved the ‘Place Hold’ button and ‘Book Course Collection copy’ link to the top right of the full-record, next to the title.

What happens when there are multiple holds on a book?

Your subject liaison librarian will monitor the number of holds on books in your subject. If the number builds up they might decide to do one or more of the following:

  • move a copy into the Course Collection for 6-hour loan
  • make more copies 7-day loan
  • purchase extra copies
  • look into e-book options (although not all books are made available online by publishers)

If you are having trouble getting hold of a specific book please contact your subject liaison librarian with details and they will do what they can to help.

Jackie Skinner, Library Web Manager



The latest in our series of monthly ‘Info tips’ has been published on using the Internet for academic study. It discusses Google Scholar and reliable alternatives to Wikipedia, and it contains links to other useful resources, such as our subject pages and our handy guide to evaluating websites.

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


Following the recent Enterprise upgrade it is now possible to sort your catalogue search results.

Sorting pick-list on EnterpriseSorting your results

By default Enterprise uses relevancy ranking when displaying search results, which should mean that you see the most relevant items relating to your search appearing at the top of the list. If this doesn’t suit your needs it is now possible to sort your results using the ‘Sort by’ pick-list on the right of the screen.

So if you want to see the most recent publications at the top of your results just select ‘Publication date (Descending)’ from the list. You can also sort by title and author.

Limiting your results

The new sorting facility is is in addition to the existing limiting options on the left of the screen. Use these to restrict results in a variety of ways:

  • Access – online or print
  • Type of publication e.g. books or journals
  • Publication date
  • Language
  • Library collection e.g. Theses
  • Subject
  • Author

Jackie Skinner, Library Web Manager



Conference posters on easels next to easy chair on Library's 5th Floor Silent Study areaThe central area of the Library’s newly refurbished 5th Floor silent study area is hosting an exhibition of undergraduates’ prize-winning posters detailing their UROP research projects.

The University of Reading’s Undergraduate Research Opportunites Programme (UROP) provides exciting opportunities for students to work with University staff on one of a variety of research projects. Successful applicants are paid for these varied six-week summer placements. If you are a Reading student in your middle year of study, look out for your chance to take part over summer 2014 on the UROP website in March!

Rachel Redrup, Library Marketing Co-ordinator

researchskillsbanner2013Our latest ‘Info tip’ is now available, which this month focuses on JSTOR. Check out the feature for tips on using this resource to find full-text articles in the humanities, the social sciences and the sciences. This is one of a series of tips helping you save time and effort finding information.


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