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for Undergraduates

UG CamGuides: How do I reference and avoid plagiarism?

Establishing good academic practice from the start of your degree

What's in this section?

pile of paperAcademic work, at all levels, draws on texts, ideas, images, sounds, designs, research, or coding produced by others. Not all students will be referencing these from the start of their degree. But when you do come to, you must give full credit following the conventions for your discipline. If you don't cite an idea or direct quotation, you could be accused of plagiarism: the intentional or unintentional passing off of another's work as your own. 

Equally, there is no point searching for these resources, reading, and making notes if you can't easily find a quotation or page reference when you are writing an essay or report. Making clear and traceable notes as you go along is by far the most efficient way to work.

Referencing in most subjects takes the form of a citation at a relevant point in the text and at the end of the piece of work. The format or style used for citing resources (e.g. Harvard, MHRA, MLA etc.) varies between subjects.  This guide introduces the overall principles, but be sure to find out how your department prefers you to cite and reference by checking departmental handbooks, asking your supervisor and looking at the Reference Management LibGuide.

Click on the icon to the left to listen to this introduction as an audio recording


As you go through this guide, if there are any terms that you are unfamiliar with, click on Terminology in the menu. This page lists words from across the whole of CamGuides for Undergraduates which may be new to you or have a specific meaning at Cambridge and provides a definition to set them in the context of studying here.

Using CamGuides for Undergraduates

Go to Using CamGuides for Undergraduates for information about what is included in the resource and how to find your way around it

There is plenty of support is available when you start in Cambridge. However, if you'd like to ask something specifically about using CamGuides for Undergraduates, email

  • CamGuides for Undergraduates is completely optional
  • It comprises five sections
  • It is aimed at all new undergraduates
  • You can revisit it at any time
  • You don't need to sign up to any platform
  • There are optional tasks to complete next to the lightbulb icon in a grey box

Image credits

CC0 by Christa Dodoo via Unsplash

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