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UG CamGuides: How do I reference and avoid plagiarism?

Establishing good academic practice from the start of your degree

Basic tools

Zoterobib imageIf you have to reference frequently as part of your course, you will probably learn how to construct a reference. However, there are also several tools, which let you create a reference and copy and paste it into your work

Once you are at Cambridge you will also have access to Cite them Right. This gives you referencing examples for a huge range of resources. As well as including books and journal articles, it shows you how to cite materials which may be specific to your discipline such as legal materials, media, art, unpublished reports, and government publications. You can choose which format (e.g. Harvard, MLA etc) you wish to cite in. When you have your Raven login, you will be able to access it from iDiscover (the combined catalogues of Cambridge University Libraries) or the A-Z database list

There are also two freely available tools you could try:

  • Zoterobib lets you add a title, ISBN, DOI, PMID or URL to quickly generate a formatted reference or bibliography. You can easily change reference style too. You don't need to create an account; just create and export it straight to your work. The unique link will let you return to it later or share with someone else.
  • EasyBib is another free tool that lets you create references to copy and paste into your work.
  • Cite It Now is an app which lets you scan the barcode of a book to instantly produce its citation in your chosen style, and you can export your references into popular reference managers or as a PDF. 

iDiscover and lots of online resources also let you generate a reference for a particular text although you may have to edit the look of the reference as it may be in a different style to the one you have to use.

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Downloading a reference

Watch this short video showing you how to generate a reference in iDiscover which you can then copy into a bibliography or list of references. Lots of ebooks and journals let you download references too.

Advanced tools - reference management software

You need to take records of everything you encounter during the research process. You can do this on paper, but you have to work hard to keep it in order. Or you could use a notebook, but you may find that becomes unwieldy unless it is carefully indexed. And what would happen if you lost all of that work? 

Reference management software will let you download references from catalogues and databases, store pdfs and take notes, keeping everything in the same place and searchable so you can track it down later. Plus, it is all backed up online so that you can access it whichever device you are working on. 


With thanks to:

Eloise (English)

One of the most useful features is that it can help you to cite references in a Word document and automatically build your bibliography/list of references. You probably won't want to get started with this software until you are a little way into your course and have written a few essays, but the guides below will give you more information if you are interested in finding out more about them now.

Mendeley and Zotero are free. They are installed on the Managed Cluster Service (Windows, Mac and Linux computers that are available for use in colleges, departments and computer rooms around the University) but you can also download them or access them online.

Endnote Desktop is provided for free by the University on Managed Cluster Service computers, and can be obtained for a personal computer via University Information Services. Endnote Online is free to use.

Click on the images below to see a guide on each piece of software.

Reference Management Guides - click on the arrow to move the boxes; click on the image to read the guide

Image credits

Zoterobib graphic. All rights reserved. 

Film credits

© Cambridge University Libraries. All rights reserved.