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Writing references

As a student at Södertörn University and the Swedish Red Cross University, you are expected to write references in a clear and correct manner. Learn more about paraphrasing, quoting, plagiarism, reference management programs, and other common questions about referencing.


Here are answers to some common questions about references from students at Södertörn University (SH) and the Swedish Red Cross University (RKH).

A reference consists of two parts: a reference in the text and a reference in the reference list. Each time you use information from a source, enter a reference in your text. The purpose is to show who says what in the text and to help the reader find the complete reference in the reference list.

In the reference list, which is placed at the end of the text, complete information on all the sources you have referred to should be included. The reference list is meant to help the reader to find the sources for review or further reading.

According to Eriksson (2009), references have several important functions in academic writing. It helps you substantiate your reasoning and clarify what is your own thoughts and others. It also gives the reader the opportunity to review the information in your text. Last but not least, it means recognition of the work of others and that you build on established knowledge, which is a central part of the academic work method.

Eriksson, M.G. (2009). Referera reflekterande: konsten att referera och citera i beteendevetenskaperna. Lund: Studentlitteratur.

References are needed both when paraphrasing and quoting a source. The reader should never have to hesitate about who says what in your text.

When it comes to so-called "general knowledge", for example that the official language in Sweden is Swedish, references are usually not needed. Ask your teacher if you are unsure.

Paraphrasing a source means that you summarize the most important content in your own words and enter a reference in connection to the paraphrase.

Quoting means that you reproduce the exact text within quotation marks and enter a reference in connection to the quote. Quotes should be used sparingly, for example when it is one or a few sentences that really express what you want to say.

Plagiarism means that you copy or use someone else's text or ideas as if it were your own. If you are not careful about paraphrasing or quoting correctly, whether it is a mistake or cheating, you risk plagiarizing. Plagiarism can be the basis for a warning or suspension from your studies.

How to design your references depends on the reference system used on your course. At SH, the Harvard or Oxford system are often used. At RKH, on the other hand, the APA system is used. Look in your study manual or ask your teacher if you are unsure.

The Library and the Study Support Unit at SH have produced guides to Harvard, Oxford and APA. Download them on the page Referencing guides.

Book an appointment with a librarian to get help with referencing and information seeking. Read more about the library's tutoring in referencing.

You can also go to the Study Support Unit (room UB 516) in the library to get help from teachers in Swedish, English and Rhetoric with referencing, academic writing, speeking and study techniques. Read more about the Study Support Unit.

Learn more

Reference management programs

Using a reference management program, you can collect and organize your references and share them with others. In many programs it is possible to create a database for your references. In the database, the references are searchable and can be supplemented with their own keywords and notes. In the database you can easily organize the references to facilitate your work. When writing, you can insert the references in the text by downloading them from your database. If text is moved in the document, the references follow, and the reference list adapts to the changes.

Read more about the reference management programs EndNote and Zotero below.

EndNote is available in two versions: as software and online version. As a member of staff at SH, you can order the license via your department.

Learn more about EndNote. External link, opens in new window.

EndNote Basic is a free version of EndNote. You can create an account at the EndNote login page External link, opens in new window. by selecting "Not a member yet?".

Zotero is a freely available reference management program. You can create an account at the Zotero login page  External link, opens in new selecting "Register for a free account".

Learn more about Zotero. External link, opens in new window.

For researchers

The library also offers one-to-one tutoring for our researchers, PhD students, teachers and other staff at SH and RKH. The tutoring should be linked to teaching and learning, research or other university related matters. Read more and book at the information page for research support External link..


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