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An introduction to referencing.

Why bother with referencing properly?

This guide is an introduction to referencing, covering the essentials of referencing and including a number of exercises to test your knowledge. Exact details of how to reference individual resources are covered in the Library Harvard Guide.

There are a number of different systems for referencing. Your lecturer may want you to reference in a particular way and you are advised to check in your programme or module handbook exactly what is required. This guide will focus on Harvard referencing but will also link to resources on other systems such as APA, Numeric and Vancouver.

Why reference?

When carrying out research you will need to look at a wide range of sources of information (books, journal articles, web pages etc) which you then use in your written work. It is important that you to refer to, or cite, the sources you have consulted. In doing so you:

  • acknowledge other peoples' ideas
  • support your arguments
  • show the scope and breadth of your research
  • enable the reader to easily locate the sources you have used
  • avoid charges of plagiarism or bad academic practice

Four steps to good referencing

1. Always record all the books and articles you find as you find them (start creating your reference list/bibliography from the beginning).

Why? Because you can't remember everything and this will save time trying to find it again later on.

2. Always give yourself plenty of time to research and write your work.

Why? Because this will avoid the temptation for last-minute 'panic plagiarism'

3. When writing, always acknowledge ideas you've picked up from your reading - both direct quotes and ideas you have paraphrased.

Why? Because this is the basis of 'good academic practice'.

4. When in doubt, always seek assistance or clarification from your lecturer or subject librarian.

Why? Because it can take a little while to get the 'knack' of academic writing - and there are people who can help!