​​​​What is it?

Referencing is the practice of acknowledging sources of evidence as you use them in your work. There are a variety of referencing styles used in academic work today, some of which you will discover as you read through journal articles and textbooks during the course of your study, but the one you are most likely going to use is the ‘author-date’ system, which is commonly called ‘Harvard’.

The ‘author-date’ system is quite easy to identify in scholarly work: it involves placing the name of the author (or authors) whose work you are citing, together with the year in which it was published, between brackets, and adding it at an appropriate point in your text.

Accurate referencing is a hallmark of high quality academic work. It requires a careful, organised and methodical approach to constructing and writing your work. Developing sound referencing practices will lead to enhanced analytical ability and communicative skills; it can also stimulate creativity if it is treated as a way of expressing knowledge and understanding rather than simply as a tool for avoiding plagiarism..



Before using any of our resources, it is recommended that you check which referencing style is required in your module handbook. If you are unsure, please contact one of the tutors responsible for that module.


If you have a Cardiff Met user ID and password, you can access our e-lesson on referencing, which may be found on Moodle.

There is also an e-lesson on the basics of referencing, following the author-date system (Harvard or APA), as well as one for Cardiff School of Education (derived from Cite Them Right - please see the resources below​).


5 Slide Guide - Referencing: principles and format

This short guide is intended to give you a succinct overview of the reasons for referencing and the basics of formatting references for different types of sources. Its purpose is to introduce you to the topic; as such, it will complement other guidance provided either by us or your tutors. Please note, it follows the style set out in Cite Them Right.

BUFVC Audiovisual citation guide

This guide is recommended to anyone citing audio or visual sources, such as films.

Quotation collection forms

Short quote form

The form provides you with a useful way of collecting all of the required bibliographical information for each reference. Using this form will get you into the habit of creating accurate and properly formatted references.

Long quote form

This form is similar to the short quote version but it includes a larger space for adding notes about the resources. It is ideal for more detailed references or even adding a brief explanation of why the reference is important to your work.


For an overview of the principles and practice of referencing, following the Cite Them Right style, have a look at our guide:

Referencing Guide: Principles and Practice

These points are also discussed in a short video lesson:

Referencing: Principles and Practice

(*Please note, as with the Referencing Guide, these resources follow the style in Cite them right. For more information on this style, see below.)

Cite them right

One of the most frequently used versions of the author-date (or Harvard) referencing system is that set out in Cite them right. As noted above, it is recommended to check in your module handbook which version is required. Even if Cite them right is not preferred, its guidance on the principles behind referencing will be very useful.

Cite them right is available as a book:

Pears, R. and Shields, G. J. (2013) Cite them right. 9th edn. Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan

However, it is also available online, as a database, complete with helpful videos and FAQs:

Cite them right online

This is a subscription service for which you will need your Cardiff Met user name and password in order to access it. Please note, this resource may also be accessed through the list of databases in the Electronic Library.

APA Referencing

For guidance on APA referencing, please look at Cite Them Right (see above). Please note, you will need to change the referencing style in the drop-down box in the middle of the screen. This is set by default to 'Harvard' referencing. Simply select 'APA' from the list.

The Purdue Online Writing Lab (OWL)

This database, hosted by Purdue University, contains formatting and style guides for APA and MLA (2009) referencing systems. Many of the principles discussed in it may be applied using other referencing systems and styles.