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Referencing, Citing, and Structuring Bibliographies

A beginners' guide to referencing and bibliographies.

What is referencing?

Referencing, also called ‘citing’, is the process of adding ‘references’ (or ‘citations’) to your course work. Referencing is a very important academic skill & it is a requirement when writing your essays & course work. Accurate referencing can improve your marks! 

What is a citation?

A citation/reference is a clearly identified ‘note’ that states that you are referring to someone else’s work and what the work is that you are referring to. It appears in the text, either within the sentence you are writing, or as a footnote. 

What is a bibliography?

A bibliography is a list, located at the end of your piece of course work, of the references and all the material that you have used in your work. Anything referenced in the body of your essay should also have a corresponding entry in your bibliography. Referencing must be carried out in a specific ‘style’ as required by your Department.

Why should I do it?

Referencing acknowledges the work of others, supports the claims that you make in your text - showing the breadth of your research and strengthening your academic argument -, it enables a reader to refer to the sources that have been quoted and verify your data, and ensures that you avoid accidental plagiarism.

Six-Point Referencing Code

To make it easier for you to decide exactly when you need to cite, use the following simple six-point code. This is another of those notes worth sticking to the side of your computer screen or pinning to the notice board above your desk. Wherever you keep it, make sure it’s just a glance away.

When to cite:

1. Distinctive ideas
Whenever the ideas or opinions are distinctive to one particular source.

2. Distinctive structure or organising strategy
Even though you may have put it into your own words, if the author has adopted a particular method of approaching a problem, or there is a distinctive intellectual structure to what’s written, for example to an argument or to the analysis of a concept, then you must cite the source.

3. Information or data from a particular source
If you’ve gathered information from a source in the form of facts, statistics, tables and diagrams, you will need to cite the source, so your readers will know who gathered the information and where to find it.

4. Verbatim phrase or passage
Even a single word, if it is distinctive to your author’s argument. You must use quotation marks and cite the source.

5. If it’s not common knowledge
Whenever you mention some aspect of another person’s work, unless the information or opinion is widely known, you must cite the source, so your readers can follow it up.

6. Whenever in doubt, cite it!
It will do no harm, as long as you’re not citing just to impress the examiner in the mistaken belief that getting good grades depends upon trading facts, in this case references, for marks.

Taken from Palgrave Study Skills Online: [30th June 2014]

You may need to reference information from: books, journal articles, videos, web sites, images, recordings, films & TV, performances, newspapers, and any other print, electronic & online sources.

How do I reference?

 There are two main types of referencing formats:

in-text references which sit in the body of your text like this:  With presentations, ‘structure must be clear and precise’ (McCarthy and Hatcher, 1996: 69-70).

footnotes which sit at the end of each page like this: With presentations, ‘structure must be clear and precise’1. [...] 1. McCarthey and Hatcher, 1996, pp. 68-70)

Check your referencing style guide to see which one you will need to use. Whichever you choose, you will still need to collate these references into a bibliography at the end of your essay. 

Real Life Referencing Examples