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PAL Central: Study Skills - Referencing

An online hub of guidance and resources for our PAL Leaders and their Level 4 students.

Expectations and Contacts

Expectations of you as a PAL Leader delivering a study skills themed PAL session:

  • PAL Leaders are not expected to / are not supposed to be teaching any study skills. Please leave that responsibility to BU Academics and Professional Support Staff. However PAL Leaders should be able to use facilitation techniques to deliver sessions with a study skills theme; empowering students to discover, share and learn.
  • All study skills are useful for any student - your PAL group just may not realise it yet, especially during their first semester, so your encouragement will be needed!
  • It's well worth spending time exploring the Brightspace Study Skills area, for your benefit, and, so you can signpost students to the most relevant information.
  • It's likely students will be unsure and seek reassurance, so if you receive lots of questions, always consistently set boundaries and use the re-directing questions facilitation technique. Remind your PAL group it's not your role to teach and signpost to academics and BU Support Services. You may of course share your experiences as a first year student and empathise, but do not teach or take away a long list of questions that you'll find out for students - it's very important students learn to find and figure out answers for themselves.

Key Study Skills Contacts & Resources:​​​

  • BU Academics can be contacted and students can request a 1-2-1 meeting to discuss skills development, progress or concerns with their course, units and assignments.
  • BU Librarians have created a range of Study Skills Guides (also accessible via the Brightspace Study Skills area). We encourage you and your PAL students to use these whether you are sign-posting your PAL group to them, or, using them to prepare and shape the PAL sessions you facilitate.
  • You can also help promote the Library's Study Skills Workshops.
  • Faculty of Media and Communications PAL Leaders can sign-post your PAL students to the FMC Learning Development Team (based in WG08 Talbot Campus, email to make an appointment: 
  • Faculty of Health and Social Sciences PAL Leaders can sign-post your students to the HSS Educational Development Tutor Mike Knight (based in B228 Lansdowne Campus, email to make an appointment:


  • PAL Leaders should avoid creating a Powerpoint showing examples of how to reference sources - that approach risks presenting mistakes or bad habits - it will probably result into you entering teacher mode, when PAL Leaders are only supposed to facilitate. 

​Note: Not all BU students use the BU Harvard style

  • If you are a History (Faculty of Media & Communications) PAL Leader, direct your PAL group to the Chicago referencing style.
  • If you are a Psychology (Faculty of Science & Technology) PAL Leader, direct your PAL group to the APA referencing style.
  • If you are a Law (Faculty of Media & Communications) PAL Leader, direct your PAL group to the OSCOLA referencing style guidance created by BU's Law Librarian - International Law and UK & EU Law.
  • If you are a PAL Leader for courses Criminology with Psychology and Criminology with Law (Faculty of Health and Social Sciences), you will have units from different faculties and programmes that don’t use BU Harvard referencing. Criminology with Psychology students need to use both BU Harvard and APA, depending on the unit they are taking. Criminology with Law students need to know BU Harvard and OSCOLA referencing style guidance created by BU's Law Librarian - International Law and UK & EU Law. If you have any questions about this, email
  • If you are a PAL Leader for any other course, direct your PAL group to the Referencing - BU Harvard Guide.

Ideas to include this in your PAL session: 

  • Encourage your students to practise, generate the answers themselves and share experiences (e.g. BU Library has created a quick 10 minute online tutorial to practise BU Harvard referencing skills). Instruct them to check their references against BU Library's guidance and signpost them to it. Help promote 1-2-1 appointments with a Librarian - students can book this via a link on their Brightspace Library page.
  • You could provide examples of different source types of in your PAL session, or, instruct your PAL students to bring sources along (e.g. a book, a journal article, a webpage, a report - use your PAL print credit to print the Referencing - BU Harvard Quick Guide.
  • You could use the jigsaw facilitation technique divide the students up (they could work individually, in pairs or in small groups, depending on numbers) and get them to work on using the relevant BU guidance to figure out how they reference those different sources. Students come up with the answers, PAL Leader helps facilitate this learning.

Facilitation Techniques & Activity Ideas

Use the Facilitation Techniques and Activity Ideas & Strategies pages of this guide for inspiration and further help to prepare and deliver your PAL sessions.