Office of the Pro Vice-Chancellor (Business)

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What is referencing?

  • Referencing means acknowledging someone else’s work or ideas. It is sometimes called ‘citing’ or ‘documenting’ another person’s work.

  • Referencing is a basic University requirement.

As an RMIT Business student, you are required to use the Harvard referencing system as outlined in the following pages. This author date system is based on the Australian Government 2000, Style manual for authors, editors and printers, 6th edn, John Wiley & Sons, Australia.
Note: The Harvard system has many variations. You must use this version known as the AGPS style.
We have created an interactive website to assist you in the pursuit of referencing to the required standard. The site contains examples you can read as well as self help exercise with the information presented in a just in time format. It would be beneficial fore you to bookmark the RMIT Business online referencing resource.
Why reference?

  • To draw on the ideas, language, data, and/or facts of others. (You are expected to read and research widely.)

  • To provide depth and support to academic work through citation of theories or key writers whose work supports your answer, argument, or contention.

  • To demonstrate knowledge of current thinking in the field.

  • To support academic writing, essays, business reports, and oral presentations.

  • To demonstrate your ability to synthesis and analyse ideas sourced through your research.

  • To acknowledge work from others that you have quoted, summarised, paraphrased, synthesised, discussed or mentioned in your assignments.

  • To provide a list of the publication details so that your readers can locate the source if necessary.

  • To demonstrate the level and breadth of research undertaken by a student. References used correctly will benefit your work and may add to your final grade.


  • Without appropriate referencing students are in effect “stealing” the work of others- this is tantamount to academic fraud and is called plagiarism.

  • Failure to reference your work means that you may be found guilty of plagiarism which incurs academic penalties. Further information can be found at RMIT Regulations 6.1.1 – Student Discipline.

  • Failure to use the correct referencing format may affect the grading of your academic work.

2. Referencing

2. 1 Introduction

Whenever you rely on someone else’s work you must acknowledge that by providing details of the source. Harvard Referencing has been developed to provide standard, compact ways of conveying this necessary information.
In this system, each reference is indicated in two areas of your work:

  • in the text (in-text citation) by using the name of the author(s) and the date of publication of the work.

  • In the reference list, where the full details of each reference, including the title and publishing details are given

2.2 In-text citations

There are two ways of referencing in-text:

  • Paraphrasing

  • Direct quotes

2.2.1 Paraphrasing

When paraphrasing, the ideas of the author(s) are expressed in your own words.
Paraphrasing is used to indicate to the reader:

  • your understanding of the content in the reference you are using.

  • your ability to relevantly and appropriately use ideas and information to support an argument or an opinion.

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