Referencing Your Sources of Information
For high level academic writing, it is normal to include "referencing" in what you write. Referencing will provide an indication as to what your sources of information were, for the piece of work that is published.
Referencing is however in many publishing situations, unnecessary, and can be seen as a waste of valuable space.
If the information in a book or other piece of work is derived largely without the use of clearly identified & referenceable material, the use of referencing may be questionable. For example; consider a piece of work where the written thoughts and ideas are derived by merging the thoughts of many different people, who work repeatedly over each others work, changing, adding to and refining that work. Consider how such a situation can incorporate referencing?
There are specialized programs available which will help you carry out referencing; such as Endnote, Procite or Refworks. These types of programs will store and organize references as well as automatically create reference lists.
When referencing sources of information, the Harvard system should be used. It is important to realise that there are different referencing systems, such as the APA system, and there are even differences within the Harvard System. Below is a basic referencing method that should be used. Any additional information required using the Harvard system can be found by performing a search on the Harvard system via the Internet. By now you should be comfortable and familiar with referencing however below is a brief revision.
One method is to use the Author and Date method which is the simplest method for both the writer and reader. There are two places where each source should be cited:
- within the text of the essay
- under the References section at the end of the essay.
The Author and Date method for referencing is set out below:
Referencing within the text
The surname(s) of the author(s) and date of publication are given in the body of the text. There are three main ways in which you may need to refer to sources within your text:
- When an author is specifically referred to in a sentence Eg. 'Jones (2000) provides a useful comparison of scientific reviews…'
- When an author is cited as the source of a statement or discovery. Eg. 'in a recent study, a large proportion of newly-planted shrubs in densely populated areas were found to fail to establish successfully (Brownson, 1998)'
- When an author is quoted directly in the text. Eg. '.in social surveys, "at least one pilot survey is essential" (Haynes, 2001: 368)
If there are two authors, the surnames of both are given separated by ‘&’.
If there are more than two authors, the first time they are referenced all the authors are listed, separated by a coma with the last separated by the ‘&’ Eg. (Smith, Brown & Jones 2000).
Every time after that, only the surname of the first author is given and followed by 'et al.’ E.g. (Smith et al. 2000).
If you include diagrams or maps taken from books or periodicals, you MUST always provide the source. The author's name and date are usually shown in brackets below the diagram or map.
If you refer to more than one source by the same author published in the same year, use lower case letters to distinguish each publication; these letters are assigned in the order that the works appear in the text e.g.
(Murphy, 1989a) (first source)
(Murphy, 1989b) (second source)
(Murphy, 1989c) (third source).
Referencing at the end of the document
At the end of your written work you must include a reference section, a detailed version of each reference made throughout the text. The order of information in the references section is always as follows:
- surnames and initials of the author/s;
- year of publication (in brackets)
- if the source is a periodical, the full title of the article in single inverted commas followed by the name of the periodical itself in italics, volume number, page(s);
- if the source is a book, the title (in italics and using capital letters for all significant words) and chapter number (if appropriate) followed by the publisher and place of publication;
- The full listing of references is to be alphabetized by Authors’ surnames.
PROBLEMS WITH REFERENCING TODAY
The world is changing faster than ever, and this fact does have implications for the practice of referencing.
There are disadvantages to referencing which are emerging; which in the past were not as much of a disadvantage as they are today; for example:
- When you reference information, you are dating it. In the past, a book with referencing a number of years earlier may have been considered up to date; but today, a book with even 12 month old referencing, may be considered redundant. This fact can result in books not being sold, revenue not being generated; and a decline in publishing.
- The internet and other aspects of globalisation have made cross border intellectual property rights more of an issue than ever before. In the past, it was difficult to detect plaigarism and far more easier to avoid plaigarism happening in published work. In todays world, it is possible to copy someone else's work both innocently and legally under the laws of one country; only to discover that you have done something illegal under the3 laws of a different country; and that referencing has in fact provided legal evidence that allows another country to take action against you.
HOW TO LEARN MORE
Read a book, do a course, join an organisation; talk to people, observe the world.
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