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School of Chemistry and Physics: Referencing

Referencing explained


What is referencing?

Referencing is a practice of acknowledging other peoples works, ideas, sources used in a paper, assignment, report and conference papers in academic writing.

Why should I reference my assignment?

  • To acknowledge the sources of information you have used just as authors of books and journal articles list the sources they have used
  • It is academic courtesy to acknowledge the work of others – none of us know everything and we we rely on the work of others
  • Your lecturers/readers need to see from where you obtained your information 
  • Your lecturers/readers need to see how widely you have read; whether you have used key sources and how up to date your information is
  • Your lecturers/readers need to be able to verify the information you have used
  • Plagiarism – using someone else’s ideas as if they were your own is unacceptable and a punishable offence.


What is a referencing style?

A referencing style is the preferred format for creating references to sources of information. Format includes the order of elements of a reference as well as punctuation. Unfortunately there is no universal style and every discipline and journal has its own preferred style.


Referencing style for Chemistry and Physics @ UKZN

The referencing style used by Chemistry is that of the American Chemical Society.

Print copies of this style are available at:

Coghill.  ACS Style Guide  3ed. R808.06654 COG (Pmb main library)

See also: Rabinowitz. Manual of scientific style  R 808.0666 RAB


Several universities such as Penn State have compiled quick guides to ACS referencing, for example:

Quick guide: ACS citation style


CASSI : CAS Source Index is an online tool for establishing accuracy of reference details.



Turnitin is an internet based tool used to check and detect plagiarism in an essay or any kind of academic related document. Its a licensed based software which universities and schools obtain through subscription.

What is plagiarism and types of plagiarism

Plagiarism is not just about copying a classmate's assignment but also taking someone else's ideas and writings from books, journals and websites and pretending they are your own. In the academic environment it is essential to indicate where you got your information and ideas from - your lecturers want to see what you have read.



UKZN has a license to the Endnote software. This programme is loaded in all lans and can also be downloaded from the UKZN software library onto private laptops and computers. Endnote allows you to create your own library of references as well as create a bibliography in a range of styles. Whilst writing a Word document it is possible to create the intext references and at the same time create the bibliography. Endnote X7 is the latest version. There are tutorials and useful 'frequently asked questions' on the Endnote site:

Endnote X7 is now available, produced to provide compatibility with Windows 8 and Word 2013, otherwise it is very similar to Endnote X6. UKZN subscribes to this tool and the license permits downloading of Endnote onto private computers.

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