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Computing Science & Mathematics: Writing References

Writing References

Proper referencing is critical. Your writing should always include accurate references to:

  • acknowledge the sources you have used to establish your arguments and criticisms and inform your ideas
  • enable other people to identify and trace the sources you have used
  • demonstrate the breadth of your reading and research
  • help to avoid charges of plagiarism because it makes clear when you are using someone else's ideas and words.

There are three components to citing references

  1. The Citation. This is the way you acknowledge i.e.cite the source in your text. Depending on the referencing style you are using this may appear as the author name and year in brackets e.g. (Jones 2016) as a number e.g. [1] or as a footnote. (See below for more about styles)
  2. The Reference. This comprises the details of the source that you have cited.
  3. The Reference List or Bibliography. This is a list of the references you have used or consulted and appears at the end of your work.

There is a preferred referencing style for most subject areas within the University. Please see below for details.

Referencing in Computing Science - IEEE

The IEEE referencing style is used in computing science.

The IEEE style is a numeric system, where citations are numbered in your text within square brackets e.g. [1]. The citation in your text corresponds to a full reference in the list of references at the end of your work. To acknowledge paraphrased ideas the citation number(s) should appear on the same line as the text inside any punctuation.

All references must have their own number. It is not permissible to use one number to cite multiple sources.

Reuse the same number for all subsequent citations of the same source.

Here are a few examples of how citations might appear:

... as demonstrated by Smith [4] and Brown and Jones [5].

... as mentioned earlier [2], [4]–[7], [9] a number of studies have investigated these issues

Multiple authors. If you mention the author name(s) as part of your sentence give both names if there are only two. If there are 3 or more authors give only the first name followed by et al. e.g. ... Wood et al. [7] suggested an alternative approach.

Add page numbers and other pinpoints to specific ideas to the citation number within the square brackets e.g.:

[3, pp. 5-10]

[3, Fig. 1]

[3, Algorithm 5]

A section of text with in-text citations might look like:

This leads to greater needs of probabilistic analysis tools, both for system planning [1] and for the daily system operation. From the first proposals in the 1970s [2], a great deal of literature can be found about it. The most straightforward method of solving this problem is Monte Carlo simulation [1, pp. 6-7].

The reference list appears at the end of your work in number order e.g.:

[1] F. P. Brooks, The Mythical Man-Month: Essays on Software Engineering, Anniversary ed. Boston: Addison-Wesley, 1995.

[2] T. DeMarco and T. R. Lister, Peopleware: Productive Projects and Teams, 2nd ed. New York: Dorset House Publications, 1999.

[3] M. Fowler, UML Distilled: A Brief Guide to the Standard Object Modeling Language, 3rd ed. Boston: Addison-Wesley, 2004.

[4] J. Seguel, “The doctoral program in Computing and Information Sciences and Engineering of the University of Puerto Rico,” Future Gener. Comp. Sy., vol. 19, no. 8, pp. 1293–1298, 2003.

See the guides below for more detail including formatting rules for each reference type e.g. books, chapters,  journal articles etc., abbreviations for journal articles and other words and a fuller example of what a reference list might look like.

You may also wish to consult the IEEE Reference Guide. Section V provides further advice and guidance.

See the Referencing and avoiding plagiarism module in Canvas for more guidance about plagiarism and more help with referencing. This is brought to you by Student Learning Services 

NEW RefWorks

If you have never used RefWorks before you should use NEW RefWorks (this requires a personal user name and password). Register or login at

Help and guides are available at:

If you have always used legacy RefWorks (the version where you login from Portal > Resources tab), you may continue to use that version (see Referencing Software below). However if you would like to change to NEW RefWorks, make sure you finish any work or assignments before making the switch. Contact your librarian if you would like help. 

Referencing Software

Referencing software helps you to collect and organise references and automatically generate a reference list (bibliography). The University provides New Refworks and EndNote.

Many Computing Science & Mathematics students and staff use BibTeX referencing software instead. 

BibTeX is a tool (and file format) used to describe and process lists of references, mostly in conjunction with LaTeX documents (it can be used with Microsoft Word with third party tools. For more information on BibTeX – see: