Search and writing assistance

Students with computers in the library.Here you can find information which is particularly useful for students who want general support with their academic studies. On the library website there is more information about other services and support offered by the library.


How should you write references and why is it so important? Using references correctly is a central part of essay writing and the academic approach. If you are not sure how to write references correctly, you may be accused of plagiarism. 

About references

References are an important part of academic writing. It is the use of references, among other things, which distinguishes for example an essay as an academic text. An essay is therefore not like any other text. An essay is expected to contribute to the scholarly discourse. By showing what other authors have written on a particular subject, and then expressing what you think about it, suggests a text of a certain quality. This is the standard expected of university and college students.

The method used for writing references and source references in an essay depends on the referencing system used in the course you are studying. At Södertörn University, we often use the Harvard System or the Oxford System. At The Swedish Red Cross University College, the APA System is used. Ask your teacher if you are unsure.

Quoting and paraphrasing sources

References are needed both when it comes to quoting and paraphrasing a source. To quote means that you reproduce the text word for word using quotation marks, while paraphrasing is to summarize the most important content in your own words. Quotes should be used sparingly, such as when there is a sentence that specifically expresses what you want to say. Read more about quoting and paraphrasing sources regarding copyrighted texts.

What is plagiarism?

To plagiarize is when an individual copies or uses someone else's text or idea and presents it as if it were their own work. Those who do not write references correctly, regardless if it's a mistake or deliberate cheating, risk being accused of plagiarism. Every year, a number of students are expelled from their studies at Södertörn University as a result of plagiarism. The computer program Urkund is used to make sure that no texts are used incorrectly. 

Learn more about references

You can visit the Study Support Unit in the library and receive support with writing essays and referencing. The Study Support Unit also runs Studietipset, a series of seminars for students. Some of them deal with study techniques, quotations and plagiarism and also understanding and writing academic texts.

By attending a tutoring session with a librarian, you can also learn more about referencing.

Further reading

A guide from Urkund.

Refero - an Anti-plagiarism tutorial
A tutorial from Blekinge Institute of Technology and Linnaeus University.

What is plagiarism?
A quiz from Indiana University.