How to Reference

Referencing your work

The standard system used at the National College of Ireland to reference your essays, reports, thesis etc. is the Harvard System. When writing a piece of work you will need to refer in your text to material written or produced by others. This procedure is called citing or quoting references. Consistency and accuracy are important to enable readers to identify and locate the material to which you have referred. The same set of rules should be followed every time you cite a reference. The Harvard system provides for in-text citation and the creation of a bibliography to be appended to the end of your work. Please consult the NCI Library Referencing guide (5th ed) for a full explanation, and a number of examples. We also have a quick referencing guide for Harvard style.

Please note that Harvard is the standard referencing style used by N.C.I. staff and students. Other referencing styles, such as OSCOLA, A.P.A. and IEEE, may be used on your course. Please consult with your lecturer to confirm which style to use.

The OSCOLA referencing system was developed by the Faculty of Law at the University of Oxford. Permission has been given to adapt this system for the purposes of developing a standard legal citation style for Ireland. This system is used to cite certain essays on law at N.C.I. Always consult with your lecturer before using OSCOLA, to make sure it is the right citation system for your work. A full OSCOLA guide is available. There is also a quick guide for referencing on the go.

The American Psychological Association reference style manual is used to reference written work on the Psychology courses. Please consult your lecturer before using this referencing style. An APA Basics Tutorial will help you get to grips with this referencing style. There is also an NCI Library APA Referencing Guide to help you with the basics.  NCI Library Referencing guide (5th ed) has information and examples of how to reference using the APA style.

The IEEE referencing style is based on the Chicago referencing style; it is widely used in the areas of computer science, software development and information technology. It is the style that the Institute of Electrical and Electronics (IEEE) specify for authors writing for their publications.

The IEEE style acknowledges a source at the exact sentence it is used within the written work and then provides a detailed reference of the source at the end of the written work in a list, which is titled References.  NCI Library Referencing guide (5th ed) has information and examples of how to reference using the IEEE style. You can also directly consult the IEEE Style ManualThere is also a quick guide for referencing on the go.


More information on citation styles is available in this referencing guide


It is important to be honest in the writing of essays, taking tests and other academic related activities. Students are expected to give full credit for the borrowing of another person's words or ideas. Intentional or unintentional use of another person's words or ideas, without acknowledging this use constitutes plagiarism. Plagiarism is the act of representing as one's own original work the creative works of another, without appropriate acknowledgement of the author or source. Creative works may include published and unpublished written documents, interpretations, computer software, designs, music, sounds, images, photographs and ideas or ideological frameworks gained through working with another person or in a group. These works may be in print or electronic media. The academic penalties for plagiarism which has been discovered can be severe. It is important that you learn and follow the practice established for citation of written works for your projects, theses and essays. Further information on academic honesty and plagiarism can be found in the booklet  NCI Library Referencing guide (5th ed)