Skip to Main Content

CU1022 Academic writing with Style: Using evidence in writing

Online resource for CU1022 Week 8 workshops

Why do we use other people's work in our writing?

One of the most important learning and assessment tools at university is the writing of essays. These essays differ from the essays you wrote at school. Firstly, they are written in an academic style, and secondly, the content is often a synthesis of ideas you have collected from a wide variety of readings. Using the work of experts and researchers in various disciplines is a large part of our university study. Your lecturers want to see that you have been reading widely and well on your topic. So you will use other people’s work to:

  1. Get information

    Published work contains useful facts and ideas. Use this knowledge to formulate ideas and opinions that in turn will help you to produce your own written work.

  2. Show that you have done the reading you were supposed to do

    Very often, your subject outlines will have a list of readings that you need to do in order to write a particular assignment.

  3. Demonstrate that you have read widely on the topic

    You need to show that you have used a range of authoritative sources.

  4. Set up an argument

    You might use someone else's idea in order to disagree with it, or as a springboard for your own argument. You are expected to provide evidence to support your points.

References underpin your assignment

Remember: Your research underpins and supports your assignment - just like a plate supports a sandwich.

sandwich on a plate


Quoting, summarising and paraphrasing

Citing in the text

This can be a bit confusing for people who are new to academic writing, but it's actually quite simple.

Whenever you use information that came from someone else (i.e. you didn't invent it yourself) you "flag" it in the sentence where you used it.

This is something that looks different, depending on the style you use.  For styles like APA and Harvard (Author-date styles) you put the author(s) surname(s) and the year in which it was published

For example, APA looks like this:

Coral reefs can add billions of dollars to a country's economy (Barker & Roberts, 2004).


Barker and Roberts (2004) point out that coral reefs can add billions of dollars to a country's economy.

For a style like AMA or the AGLC (Documentary Note styles) you only put a number in the text:

Coral reefs can add billions of dollars to a country's economy.1


Barker and Roberts point out that coral reefs can add billions of dollars to a country's economy.1

The person reading your assignment then goes to your reference list to find the rest of the information.  If you had used the APA version, they would look for the entry written by Barker and Roberts inn 2004.  If you had used the Vancouver style, they would look for number 1.

Each style has it's own quirks - go to the guide for the style to see exactly how it lays out it's in-text references.


We acknowledge the Australian Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples as the first inhabitants of the nation and acknowledge Traditional Owners of the lands where our staff and students, live, learn and work.Acknowledgement of Country

Creative Commons Licence
Except where otherwise noted, this work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike (CC BY-SA) 4.0 International License. Content from this Guide should be attributed to James Cook University Library. This does not apply to images, third party material (seek permission from the original owner) or any logos or insignia belonging to JCU or other bodies, which remain All Rights Reserved.