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Referencing and plagiarism

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Table of contents

  1. What is referencing and plagiarism?
  2. Which referencing style should I use in my assignments?
  3. Cite Them Right (CTR)
  4. OU Harvard
  5. Generative AI
  6. Getting help with referencing
  7. Other referencing styles used at the OU
  8. Turnitin at the Open University

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What is referencing and plagiarism?

Referencing is an important part of academic work. It gives credit to the sources of information that you have used to write your work, and it provides your reader with enough information to locate the sources you have used.

Plagiarism is a term that describes the unacknowledged use of someone's work (Cite Them Right, 2023). It is not normally done on purpose, and is usually caused by poor referencing.

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Which referencing style should I use in my assignments?

Most modules taught at the Open University require students to use the Cite Them Right Harvard referencing style. You can refer to your module website or check with your tutor if you are not sure what style you need to follow.

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Cite Them Right (CTR)

Cite Them Right (CTR) is an online guide containing different referencing styles. It has lots of examples of how to cite different types of sources and helpful tutorials you can watch any time.

Referencing OU module material

Need help referencing OU module material? Check out which sections of Cite Them Right are recommended when referencing physical and online module material.

The Quick guide to Harvard referencing (Cite Them Right) includes some advice on the basics of referencing, and templates for the most common reference types and OU module materials. There is also a Quick Guide to Cite Them Right video available to guide you in using the online reference guide.

OU Law undergraduate students should refer to the Quick guide to Cite Them Right referencing for law modules for guidance on using Cite Them Right Harvard and Cite Them Right OSCOLA.

There is extra guidance for Classical Studies students and tutors on The Classical Studies guide to referencing.

Cite Them Right is available in reference management tools like Mendeley, which can help you create your references in the correct format. You can find more information about these tools on the Bibliographic management page

Cite Them Right also has a 'Basics of referencing' section, which includes guidance on:

  • How to set out citations
  • The difference between in-text citations and reference lists
  • Secondary referencing

And much more.

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OU Harvard

If your module is still using OU Harvard, the OU Harvard guide to citing references (requires login) provides advice and examples to help you create references in this style.

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Generative AI

If you're thinking of using Generative AI tools like Chat GPT in your studies, check out the Open University's Generative AI for Students guidelines for advice on using them appropriately. The university expects all submitted work to be your own, and sources should be fully credited. Therefore if you use Generative AI in your assignment, make sure to reference and acknowledge it. Cite Them Right provides guidance on how to reference Generative AI. The Open University's guidelines also require you to add an appendix to your submission, outlining your use of Generative AI. For details on how to do this, refer to the Generative AI for Students guidelines.

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Getting help with referencing

Referencing guides can’t contain guidance for every single type of source. If you’re struggling to find the exact template that you need, you can follow the guidance on the What if I cannot find the reference type I need in my referencing guide? page to help you create your reference.

If you can't find what you need in the Cite Them Right Harvard or OU Harvard guide, you can check your module for guidance or ask your tutor.

Being Digital is an online collection of short easy-to-follow activities. The activities can help you to avoid plagiarism, and will show you how to include in-text citations and reference lists within your written work.

Don't forget you can also get help from the OU Library. We have a Library Helpdesk open 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.

We also have videos and live online tutorials about the hows and whys of referencing. For more details, see the Training and events page.

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Other referencing styles used at the OU

Additional guidance is available for disabled students on referencing accessible formats.

The Bibliographic Management page will tell you about tools you can use to track and organise your references.

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Turnitin at the Open University

If your module has provided you with access to Turnitin to check your assignments, you can find help and guidance on the Computing Guide.

Please note: the library helpdesk is not able to help students or staff with Turnitin queries. Please refer to the resources available on the Computing Guide.