Friday, 30 December 2011



Referencing or citation refers to:

  • words taken from a passage, a book, an author, etc; to quote something or somebody” (Oxford Advanced Learner’s Dictionary, 1999: 201);
  • “a line taken from a book, speech, etc.” ( Longman, 2003: 266)
  • the inclusion of detailed information about the source of quotes, ideas, or illustrations you insert in your term paper

In academic writing, it is necessary for a writer to refer to other people’s work (i.e. which appears in books, an article in journals, magazines etc.) to support their argument. By doing so, the writer hopes that his/her argument will become stronger. Whenever other people’s works are being referred, writers need to acknowledge the source. The following sub-sections will discuss the purpose of and the method of referencing.

The main purpose of referencing or citation is to acknowledge or give credit to the work of other people. Since we do not have the time to conduct a research or do the investigation ourselves, we usually refer to the work of other researchers to enable us to support our argument. When we refer to other researchers or studies, it is proper that we recognise their work by mentioning their work in our assignment. In addition, referencing or citation has other equally important purposes and they are listed as follows.

  • To allow readers to trace or locate the sources that you have used in your writing.
  • To show the depth of your reading in that particular subject or area.
  • To avoid plagiarism or copying either in the form of ideas or words.


When writers refer to or cite from a source, they usually use different kinds of verbs to report what the other writers have said. Below is a list of accurate description to show what someone has said. Writers need to choose the suitable ‘reporting verbs’ for the purpose of: i) making the argument that you are presenting stronger, and ii) ensuring the readers understand the importance of the source.

  • Asmah Hj Omar (2009) defines….
  • Schmitt (2008) argues…
  • Carter and McCarthy (2007) state…
  • Nik Safiah Karim (2006) recognises…

Other useful reporting verbs: 

There are different types of reference or citation system used by writers. The famous and widely used reference systems are the APA, MLA, Chicago Manual Style and Harvard Referencing. In this course, the APA system of referencing will be used. The in-text citation and the organisation of the reference using APA system is shown below.

In text citation:
  • According to Asmah Hj Omar (2009), “Malay and English are both equally important languages in Malaysia” (p. 211).
  • She stated, “Malay and English are both equally important languages in Malaysia” (Asmah Hj Omar, 2009: 211).
  • Asmah Hj Omar’s (2009) study has found that the Malay and English are significant languages in the country.

Reference List
Asmah Hj Omar. (2009). The Role of Malay and English in Malaysia. Kuala Lumpur:        Dewan Bahasa dan Pustaka

Other Reference List:
Book - Single Author
Stern, H.H. 1983. Fundamental Concepts of Language Teaching. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

Book – Two Authors
Carter, R. and McCarthy, M. 1988. Vocabulary and Language Teaching. London:             Longman.

Edited Book
Schmitt, N. and McCarthy, M. (Eds). 1997. Vocabulary: Description, Acquisition and         Pedagogy. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

Chapter in an Edited Book
Schmitt, N. 1997. Vocabulary Learning Strategies. In N. Schmitt and M. McCarthy           (Eds.), Vocabulary: Description, Acquisition and Pedagogy, (pp. 211-234), Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

Article from an Online Journal
Mason, B. and Krashen, S. 2004. Is form-focused vocabulary instruction worthwhile?    RELC Journal, 35: 179. Retrieved from

Article form an Online Newspaper
            Chapman, K. (2009, October 11). University Malaya back on track. The Star Online. Retrieved from education/story.


What is Plagiarism?
Plagiarism or taking “somebody else’s ideas or words and use them as if they were one’s own” (Oxford Advanced Learner’s Dictionary, 1995: 880), is considered an offense in academic writing. This is because we have ‘stolen’ the ideas and words of other authors and not giving them due acknowledgements in our writings. With the latest development in information technology, other people could easily check whether a writer has plagiarised other people’s work or not.

In this process writing course, students are advised not to copy other people’s work or ideas without giving acknowledgment. There are three ways of overcoming plagiarism and they are:
(i) By using quotation.
(ii) By summarizing.
(iii) By paraphrasing.

Using Quotations
By using quotations, writers copy the materials in the original text and put them in his/her assignment. To differentiate between the writers’ words and the ‘imported’ words, quotation marks (“…”) are used. These quotations mark will be placed in between the sentences or phrases which have been borrowed exactly from other source. Writes are not allowed to make any changes to the spelling, capitalization or punctuation of the original text.

• Yusoff (2009), states that “The most fascinating thing about Google is in its rapid growth and expansion – from being a very small company 12 years ago to the powerful giant that it is now” (p.25).
• It has been debated by many computer experts that “The most fascinating thing about Google is in its rapid growth and expansion – from being a very small company 12 years ago to the powerful giant that it is now” (Yusoff, 2009: 25).

Paraphrasing is an act of rewriting the ideas from an original source but using your own words and sentence structures. The purpose of paraphrasing is to make the ideas clearer and which could be easily understood by other readers. Although the words are yours, you still need to include the source or a citation since the ideas belong to the original author.

Original source:
“The most fascinating thing about Google is in its rapid growth and expansion – from being a very small company 12 years ago to the  powerful giant that it is now” (Yusoff, 2009: 25).

Google has expanded and become an important search engine company in the world (Yusoff, 2009: 25).

Summarising is like paraphrasing, where you include only the main ideas of a paragraph and using your own words and sentence structures. All  the non-essential information such as explanation, elaboration and other not important details will be left out in your summary. Once again, a citation must be included since the ideas belong to the original author.

Original source
“The web is very wide but so is Google’s reach where its presence is felt in many different areas. It can afford to provide many programs and services for free because of one thing – it makes a lot of money from its control of advertisements, which is the most lucrative of all the services” (Yusoff, 2009: 25).

Google continues to be an important and exciting search engine in the internet because of the no-fees programmes and services offered to the internet users (Yusoff, 2009: 25).


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