All About Referencing

When you use someone else’s work as part of your own work, you need to reference. But what exactly does referencing entail, why do we reference, when do we reference? And what about all the different styles you can possibly use? 🤔

What is Referencing?

Referencing is acknowledging the use of someone else’s work in your own work. Essentially, you are acknowledging the sources of information you have used in your work. Also, you are acknowledging that the information you have used, is not completely original and are giving credit to the original author.

Why do we Reference?

The main reason why we reference is to acknowledge and respect the use of intellectual property of others. With access to books and the internet, we can draw upon a myriad of ideas and research. However, it is important that we give the creator their due credit; and referencing allows us to do this.

The other reason we reference is because it shows that we have well and truly researched a subject 🔍. When you reference, you show that you have used others’ research and ideas to back up and support your assertions. By utilising references, you are showcasing your research skills in that subject area (and that’s why your teacher or marker will allocate specific marks for references!)

When do we Reference?

Now this is a tricky one, and can sometimes depend on the requirements of your task. However, the general consensus is that you need to reference any words, ideas or information taken from any source. These include books, journal articles, websites, newspapers, films, documentaries or brochures. You will also need to reference personal interviews and emails if you use them in your work. Any diagrams, illustrations or charts that you use must also be referenced. Depending on the specifications of your task, you may need to reference lecturers.

However, you do not need to reference your own observations or experiment results, your own experiences, thoughts and conclusions. This is because these things are original to you, and therefore do not need to be referenced. Common knowledge, that is, facts that can be found in numerous places do not need to referenced (eg. Canberra is the capital of Australia).

Again, it is important to verify the exact requirements of your task to ascertain whether certain pieces of information need to be referenced.

Intext Citation

Intext citation is where you insert a reference in the body of a piece of writing. This alerts the reader to the source that has inspired or informed your writing. A full list of all the cited works is placed at the end of your work, which are referred to as a Reference List, or Works Cited.

Reference List? Works Cited? Or Bibliography? 🤷‍♂️

This depends on what you present in your final list of citations.

Works Cited is generally an alphabetical list of all the sources you specifically cited in the text. All works that you have either directly quoted or paraphrased need to be included in this list.

A Reference List or References is the same thing, and should only contain all the sources specifically cited in the work.

A Bibliography on the other hand is where you list all the sources that you have consulted whilst composing your work. They include sources that may not have been referred to or cited in the text.

Your task would specify either which of these three lists are required, or will detail whether you only need to list sources cited, or all sources consulted. So make sure you read what is required of you in all your assignment or assessment tasks.

Referencing Styles

Now, this is where things start to get complicated. There are many referencing styles out there. The one you choose to use in your work depends on the specifications of your task (I knowww!). Broadly speaking the following referencing styles are the common ones:

  • Harvard Referencing
  • APA (American Psychological Association)
  • Oxford
  • MLA
  • Vancouver
  • Chicago

Each referencing style has its own nuances in how the intext citation and reference list are compiled. Some the styles utilise what is known as a note system for intext citation using footnotes or endnotes, whilst others utilise the parenthetical systems, writing the intext citation in parenthesis.

In future posts, we will examine how to reference using each of the above styles. If there is a style that you are interested in, and it hasn’t been listed above, let me know down below. 👇

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