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Cite it right – our guide to referencing and avoiding plagiarism

For some of you, it may have been a long time since you referenced in your university assignments. Some of you may have never referenced before. Some of you may be the head of referencing at a prestigious university, well known for summer boat races. Regardless of where you have come from, you may still be a little bit baffled about how you are supposed to reference during your NCRQ qualification.

Have no fear! The following article will summarise NCRQ’s expectations when it comes to referencing in your assignments. NCRQ don’t formally assess referencing, we don’t expect you to be fluent in any particular referencing style, and we aren’t here to try and catch you out. That being said, there are some general rules to try and follow when writing your assignments and, as always, if you’re unsure, ask your tutor! There’s no such thing as a daft question and it’s better to spend an extra 15 minutes on an assignment than to get pulled up on your lack of referencing for any research you’ve painstakingly undertaken in the process of your qualification.

We’re quite relaxed on how you should reference, as long as it is clear that the ideas expressed in your work do not come from yourself. We’ve put some tips together below:

  • If you are using the exact same words as are in the source, you may be best to “quote” or italicise, and then in (parentheses) tell us the website address, the name of the book, newspaper or other sources that you used.
  • Show your working out; if you’ve done some research and taken ideas from elsewhere – that’s okay! Just make a point of saying where you got the information from.
  • Try not to copy huge chunks of text from other sources – try and reword them. After all, we want to assess your work and ability to critically think – not somebody else’s!
  • Whilst using online sources for legislation or guidance is quite acceptable if referenced, copying larger sections of material – especially if this forms the basis of a key part of your assessment – will not be acceptable – even if it is identified and referenced.

If this all still seems a little bit confusing, we have put together a few examples. Let us imagine you are writing an assessment, and want to talk about the risks involved in food manufacturing. You go to the HSE website, and want to use a few sentences in your own assignment. There are a few ways you can do this appropriately.

Example 1: 

The food production chain has three stages – agriculture, manufacturing and retailing/catering. Food and drink manufacturing takes place in factories ranging in size from those employing only a few workers to those employing hundreds (http://www.hse.gov.uk/food/about.htm).

These two sentences have been copied and pasted directly from the HSE website, and are just about of an acceptable length to not have to be re-worded. If the quote was any longer, you may be expected to change it a little. Remember – the assessors are looking to mark your own words, not the HSE’s.

Example 2: 

The HSE state that “the food production chain has three stages – agriculture, manufacturing and retailing/catering, with food and drink manufacturing taking place in factories ranging in size from those employing only a few workers to those employing hundreds”. 

Here you have already told the reader that the coming sentence is not your own work. You could add the hyperlink in parentheses after the quote if you like, but as you have mentioned that this sentence is not your work, you don’t need to – it is clear where it has been taken from.

Example 3: 

The food production chain has three stages – agriculture, manufacturing and retailing/catering. Food and drink manufacturing takes place in factories ranging in size from those employing only a few workers to those employing hundreds (1). 

(1) http://www.hse.gov.uk/food/about.htm 

You could add a footnote with the hyperlink, or if you would prefer, creating a bibliography, or list, at the bottom of your assessment with the source matching the numbered sentence.

As you can see, we don’t have any hard and fast rules on how to reference – just make sure the assessor knows that it’s not your own work, and give the author some credit for it.

Like most things during your qualification, use common sense and if you’re unsure, just ask! You can always speak to your tutor or a member of the support team to double-check – it’s definitely better to be safe than sorry.

Finally, copying from another student is not permitted at all. Ever. Even small quantities of work copied from another student would be classed as cheating, and likely to result in suspension or permanent debarment from your qualification.

But it is worth repeating – don’t panic about it. We see an incredibly small number of students fall foul of the above rules as it is entirely avoidable. We aren’t trying to catch students out and we aren’t going to penalise unfairly. We just need to ensure your work is reflective of your thoughts and abilities to make you the best health and safety practitioner you can be!

As always, if you have any questions you can get in touch with us by emailing support@ncrq.org.uk or calling our office on 01244 956990.

The full malpractice policy can be found here.

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