Referencing in academic writing

Supporting materials

  • Slides/materials: Slides
  • Online session materials: Padlet
  • Other materials used: Flip chart paper and pens, reading list


  • Group: up to 90
  • Length: 90 minutes
  • Room: flat room
  • Discipline: any
  • Level: UG

Learning outcomes

· Why we reference

· Practice creating an annotated bibliography

· Integration of evidence into your writing

Suggested online resources

Session content

Introduction & Course Summary: The workshop will go beyond considering referencing. Using a reading list and apply an annotated reading list strategy, the ongoing application of which will support you through your course. You will have an opportunity to practice building a shared annotated bibliography in the class. We will also explore how to incorporate references to information sources smoothly into your writing to ensure that you are communicating your ideas as part of the wider conversation.

Referencing is a big topic so the agenda will explicitly consider why referencing is important, recording references and associated notes and how to make use of them within academic writing at university. (Slide 2)

Refer to the online support available; referencing guide and the academic writing guide that are in the Blackboard space.

Why do we reference?

Activity: Consider why we reference what we read in our writing in pairs. After a couple of minutes take some feedback and write it up on the white board.

Confirm the following with the students based upon their feedback (Slide 3)

· Avoiding plagiarism

· Acknowledging the work of others

· Making it easy for the reader to follow up your thought process

Back to basics referencing

Introduce referencing as an academic convention that is crucial to the success of the students ongoing academic development.

Activity: In groups the students should make 2 lists using the flip chart paper and pens provided. (Slide 4)

Details needed for you to reference in your writing for the in text citation and for the bibliography

Details needed for you to document the most important pieces of information (think about our last workshop and when we talked about note-taking while reading?

Take feedback from the students and complete the slide on the fly to be sent out following the workshop. (Slide 5)

Discuss these details bearing in mind that these are all needed to attend to academic work. These should become good habits that can be initiated in year Applying a strategy to capture these details in an ongoing way can facilitate this and an annotated bibliography is a good method of safekeeping all of these small details in an ongoing way.

The annotated bibliography is also useful as a means of documenting reading and keeping track of useful sources across your different units.

The annotated bibliography

An annotated bibliography is a good way to capture those information sources that will be continually useful and build a personal evidence base. Suggest that it can be kept digitally or manually. Evernote/Endnote/Padlet. What is important to remember is to keep it up to date/use it!

It can be used to reach across a whole course to document all reading and capturing a body of knowledge that is a personal train of thought. By final year then there is a series of readings and notes that might influence a dissertation project.

Build a shared bibliography

Activity: Working in pairs students should identify something that they have recently read. Suggest looking at the course reading list. Using the padlet link you should take a couple of the items from the reading list that both have read and add the details to the bibliography (refer back to what they included in the earlier activity) (Slide 6)

The padlet should be shared to Bb following the workshop as a hive mind bibliography.

Credibility of resources

A vital part of the annotation should be dedicated to indicating the credibility of the evidence. Ask the students where they go to look for information for their studies. Using the nursing subject guide that is embedded in Bb is a good place to start. An annotation should incorporate elements of evaluation; who said it, why, where is it published? (Slide 7)

Discuss with the class the detail in the annotation using the following questions.

Have you evaluated the source in the annotation?

Do they all have the same value?

How do you identify your information sources?

Incorporating references into your writing: ways to do it effectively.

The bibliography will accumulate references throughout the course and this can then provide access to information that has informed thinking about the subject. When writing the bibliography becomes a companion that can be used to provide evidence on thinking.

Explain the 3 ways that evidence can be incorporated into writing. (Slide 8)




Activity: Practice writing, using quote,cite and summarise

Working in groups of 3 or 4 write 2 paragraphs as a letter to the academic journal that published the letter that we looked at in the last workshop. The group should take the role of a practising midwife that feels the need to reply to Amy’s first letter. Using the evidence on the slide each group should make decisions on how to best incorporate the evidence within the letter. (Slide 9)

You will need to retain an objective stance and give a thought to how you use the evidence to structure and communicate your message with power to make a clear argument.

Wrap up

Summarise what has been covered and emphasise the importance of developing good habits to succeed. Refer to the online resources that have been placed into Blackboard for the programme and where they are. Finally ask the RLUK/SCONUL question. (Slide 10–12)

Internal ID: R18–0365




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Referencing in academic writing