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Biochemistry: Referencing & Writing

Guides to academic writing

Writing Your Thesis

Help with writing

Developing writing skills / support with writing

A free, online course in scientific writing that teaches how to write effectively in the sciences. It is structured in three lessons, with each containing principles, examples, and a worksheet for you to complete.

A concise section-by-section guide to writing a scientific paper, including examples and some links to further resources.

This is a more general resource on academic writing from Purdue University. It has useful sections on; conciseness, paragraphs, using logic, and varying your sentences.

Referencing basics

Citing (in-text) and referencing (providing the full details of the source cited, usually at the end of your writing) is a standardised way of acknowledging materials used in your research. Ask your lecturer if you are unsure which style to use. 

For information and resources about the most popular styles, check out our Citation Styles Guide.

A reference is not only the way we identify a source of information we have used, it is also a way that we can locate a source of information.

While you are studying, you will need to find and use references, and cite and reference the information you use.

Parts of a reference include:

  • Author(s) or editor(s)
  • Title (of book, book chapter, article, webpage, documentary, etc.)
  • Date of publication
  • Publisher and place of publication (books)
  • Page numbers
  • Journal title, journal volume and issue (articles)
  • And, other elements that are specific to the type of source, e.g. edition of a book, or DOI or URL for online content.

References are formatted differently, depending on the referencing style used. Here is a break-down of an example of a journal article reference in the APA (American Psychological Association) style:

Jerrentrup, A., Mueller, T., Glowalla, U., Herder, M., Henrichs, N., Neubauer, A., & Schaefer, J. R. (2018). Teaching medicine with the help of “Dr. House”. PLoS ONE, 13(3), Article e0193972.

  • Jerrentrup, A., Mueller, T., Glowalla, U., Herder, M., Henrichs, N., Neubauer, A., & Schaefer, J. R.

The authors are listed first, last name followed by initials.

  • (2018).

The year of publication is written after the authors, in brackets.

  • Teaching medicine with the help of “Dr. House”.

The title is next, e.g.; article title, book or book chapter, webpage, documentary, etc.

  • PLoS ONE,

Next is the name of the wider source if there is one (in APA it is written in italics), e.g.; this is where you would write the title of a journal that an article is found in, or the title of a book that a book chapter is in.

  • 13(3),

For journal articles, this is where you write the journal number (in italics), followed by the journal issue (in brackets). 

  • Article e0193972.

Next, the page numbers, or the article number is written; like it is in this example.

Finally, the DOI or an URL is included, because this is how we find the resource online.

NB: Full stops, commas, brackets and italics are all part of the referencing style, and will differ according to the particular style you are using or reading.

References will also differ depending on the source of your information, e.g., a webpage won’t have page numbers, or if you are citing a physical book, you would write the publisher last, instead of a DOI or URL.

Citing and referencing the ideas and research you use in your assignments is a critical part of all academic work because it:

  • Acknowledges how others' work has influenced your thinking.
  • Provides evidence for your arguments, and
  • Assists other researchers to locate the sources you used.

Citing and referencing avoids plagiarism by giving you a way to correctly attribute credit to other authors or researchers.

The University of Otago takes plagiarism seriously. These resources will help you understand what plagiarism is and how to avoid it.

Information about academic misconduct, including definitions.

Definition of plagiarism and information on how to avoid it.

Identifies a range of support services and resources.

It is a good idea to have a basic understanding of what copyright is and how it pertains to what we do at University.

For information, explore the following linked websites:

APA Referencing Style

APA Citation Style

APA is the citation style established by the American Psychological Association.

Common citations styles used in School of Biomedical Sciences

APA Style

Cell Citation Style

Vancouver/NML Style

Reference management tools

Reference management software helps you store, organise, and correctly cite all your research information with ease.  They include EndNote, Mendeley, & Zotero, all of which you can currently access for free.

Check out the Managing Your References guide for information about some reference management software products. 

Managing your references with EndNote

Use Endnote to organise your references, cite them in papers, upload and annotate PDFs, and automatically generate bibliographies - in the citation style of your choice.

EndNote order form for current students

EndNote is free for students and staff at Otago. 

Managing Your References: EndNote

This LibGuide tab provides links to short instructional videos and more.

Online EndNote tutorials  from Endnote Product Support

IT resources for research

The University provides us with different software to help with research, mostly for free. Check out their website for more details.

And click here to find out about IT training courses.

Citation databases

If you find a great article on your topic, you can use a citation database to track down related articles.

Multimedia research support

  • Watch this 2 minute video ‘How to Write a Literature Review’ from University of California San Diego Psychology department. You might also want to check out some of their other short research support videos on their YouTube channel.
  • Scribbr’s YouTube channel has playlists of short videos providing research support, including using APA, writing a literature review, and avoiding plagiarism.
  • The University of Melbourne has created multiple videos providing research support and advice. Check out their channel to find short videos on academic writing and referencing.