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Guides & Tutorial, Pao-yue Kong Library, The Polytechnic University of Hong Kong

Social Work: Citation and Avoid Plagiarism

Your Starting Point for Research and Study

What is a citation?

A reference providing information about where a particular quotation, text, etc., is to be found; a bibliographical reference.  [Oxford English Dictionary]

In general, citations help readers to locate your sources of information, as well as avoid plagiarism.

Understanding and avoiding plagiarism

You need to understand why and how to use citations to help you avoid plagiarism! The Online Tutorial on Academic Integrity has been developed to raise students’ awareness of academic integrity and the University’s expectations for honest academic behaviour. Use this interactive tutorial to understand the importance and mechanics of avoiding plagiarism through proper citing. 

Online Tutorial on Academic Integrity (access via Learn@PolyU) 

Citation and Journals

The following are the top 10 publishers which PolyU researchers have their works published across various subject areas in the recent 5 years. [Data from Scopus]

1.       Elsevier
2.       IEEE
3.       Springer
4.       Wiley
5.       Taylor & Francis
6.       Sage
7.       Royal Society of Chemistry
8.       Emerald
9.       American Institute of Physics
10.     American Chemical Society

If you are writing a paper for a journal, always check the citation style requirements from that specific journal, because different journal (or publisher) may use different citation styles.

You may refer to the following examples:

1. Elsevier

2. Springer

3. Wiley

4. Taylor and Francis

Reference management tool

The Library offers several reference management tools: EndNote, Mendeley, and Zotero (which are freeware). Understand the features of these tools from this page and choose a proper tool to organize your citations and references. Refer to this EndNote FAQ if you encounter any problems with EndNote.


Becky Chan's picture
Becky Chan
Subjects:Social Sciences

Which citation style shall I use?

The citation style you use depends on your discipline. If you're not sure, check with your professor. Citation styles commonly used by various disciplines are listed below:

Subject Commonly used
citation style
Applied Science & Textiles (FAST) APA / Harvard
Construction & Environment (FCE) IEEEHarvard
Engineering (FENG) IEEE
Health Sciences (FHSS) APA
Social Sciences (FHSS) APA Harvard
Humanities (FH) APAMLA
School of Design (SD) APA
School of Hotel & Tourism
Management (SHTM)

APA style for Social Work

Two parts of a citation:

1. In-text citation

  • Mainly include Author name and publication year

2. References

Reference list should be

  • Sorted by the author name in alphabetical order
  • Consistent with the in-text citation


Example 1: APA Style (6th edition)

1. In-text citation

(Suppes & Wells, 2013)

(Woolcock & Narayan, 2000)

2. References

Print Book

Suppes, M. A., & Wells, C. C. (2013). The social work experience : an introduction to social work and social welfare (6th ed.). Boston: Pearson.

Journal article

Woolcock, M., & Narayan, D. (2000). Social Capital: Implications for Development Theory, Research, and Policy. The World Bank Research Observer, 15(2), 225-249. 

Example 2: Harvard Style

1. In-text citation

(Suppes and Wells, 2013)

(Woolcock and Narayan, 2000)

2. References

Print Book

SUPPES, M. A. & WELLS, C. C. 2013. The social work experience : an introduction to social work and social welfare, Boston, Pearson.

Journal article

WOOLCOCK, M. & NARAYAN, D. 2000. Social Capital: Implications for Development Theory, Research, and Policy. The World Bank Research Observer, 15, 225-249.

Citation link on databases

Many databases provide quick link to citation style, you can simply "copy" the citation from your search result list and "paste" to your document. The following are a few examples of copying APA citation (6th edition) from online sources:

1. OneSearch  

2. ProQuest