Institute of Archaeology


Referencing effectively and the IoA guidelines

How to reference effectively and avoid plagiarism

One of the most fundamental skills in any piece of academic writing – whether a book, conference paper, article, essay, project, report or dissertation – is the ability to provide clear and appropriate references. References serve the following purposes:

  • to support arguments and statements; 
  • to show readers where the information has come from, so that they can refer to it as well;
  • to show which are the writer’s own ideas and data and which have been reported from the work of others;
  • to remind the writer of the original source of the information (references may be useful to the author, as a revision tool for example, as well as to readers).

When do I need a reference?

You must provide correct references for any information which you give.  Information could include ideas, facts, phrases, or anything else. This means that you need to include references for all information, even if it is from something which you do not consider 'academic', such as an unregulated website.  (However, it is probably best to avoid these sources of information).

What if I paraphrase?

You need to provide a reference whether or not you are using the exact words.  Even if you change the words, someone might want to find out more about the information you are referring to. If you use the same words as the original, you must use quotation marks around the text, followed by the reference.  If you rewrite the information in your own words, you do not need the quotation marks, you only need the reference itself.

Further reading: Beginner's Guide to Paraphrasing

How many references should I use?

A sensible number of sources should be consulted in order to arrive at a balanced point of view. Students are not expected to read each publication on a reading list. Module Coordinators will provide guidance on this, but it is also important that students learn to identify and select for themselves material relevant to a particular topic.

Publications must also be used with care: they are not necessarily accurate just because they are in the UCL Library or available online. Students must read critically, and if in doubt ask a member of staff for advice. Archaeology and heritage are very active disciplines and individual studies may go out of date rather quickly, so when you research your assessments, make sure that you also look at current journal articles on the subject.

How does the IoA referencing system work?

All students are expected to reference their work fully in the IoA’s chosen referencing style. The IoA uses the Harvard Cite Them Right referencing system, a combination of in-text citations and a reference list or bibliography (no footnotes and endnotes).  You must be consistent, and use this format for all your references.  

Students already familiar with the use of referencing in academic writing should use the UCL Library guide to Harvard, which introduces the system and provides a detailed A-Z list of examples. The examples provided are based on Section E Harvard Referencing Style of the 9th edition of the Cite Them Right: the Essential Referencing Guide. Students can read online or download section E as required. This short guide provides examples of Harvard Cite Them Right references for books, journals, chapters, and web sites to get you started.

If you want to use reference management software, information on the options supported by UCL and training provided is available from UCL Library Services.

If you’re new to referencing or need a refresher, please consult our Getting Started with Referencing introduction. If you have any questions about referencing, please contact the Institute of Archaeology Librarian or the Academic Writing Support team for support and advice.