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This short podcast will help you to get started with citing and referencing.
‘Citing’ and ‘referencing’ are words often mentioned by lecturers and discussed in course handbooks. But what do they mean? Why are they important? And, how do you do it ?
The words citing and referencing actually have almost the same meaning - in simple terms giving details of where you found your information for an essay or assignment, whether from a book, journal article or electronic source.
So why is it important to cite your sources?
It is accepted practice in the academic world to acknowledge the words, ideas or work of others and not simply to use them as if they were your own. If you do not give these details, then you are, in effect, submitting someone else’s work as your own. This is called plagiarism and is unacceptable for any student or researcher with the potential to result in disciplinary action. Information and advice about plagiarism is available on the Library web pages, including Episode 6 of the Library podcast series.
Citing and referencing allows other people – your supervisor or others interested in your work – to identify and trace the sources you have used.
Finally, citing your sources will help to support facts and claims that you have made in your work.
So how do you do it?
First of all, find out which citing or referencing system is required by your School or Department and check whether your School provides its own guidelines to that system.
For example, many Schools use the Harvard system, but some issue their own guidelines (for example, the Business School), whilst others are happy for you to use the Library guide to the Harvard system (for example, School of the Built Environment).
As you gather information from books, journals and websites for your assignment, make sure you note down details about each source. For books and journals you will need to note the author, or authors, title, place of publication, publisher, edition and date. For online resources you will need the same kind of details, but you will also need the date on which you accessed the information and the web address.
You are now ready to insert citations into your essay or assignment. The exact method for doing this varies according to the referencing system, but all systems will involve both an in-text citation and a reference list at the end of your work.
The Harvard system is very common at Brookes, so we’ll look at a few examples Harvard-style:
The in-text citation is at the exact point in your Word document where you refer to someone else’s work, and consists of author (or authors) and publication year in brackets. If you have included the author’s name in your text – for example… as stated by Smith – then do not repeat his name, but only give the date in brackets. If there is no author you will need to use a brief title instead.
In-text citations for online resources follow the same pattern of author and date. Remember, especially for websites, that an author can be an organisation or Government Department.
At the end of your essay or assignment you need to list all the sources for which you have given in-text citations. In the Harvard method this list is arranged alphabetically by author, or title if there is no author, so that the person reading your essay can go easily from an in-text citation to the correct point in your reference list.
An example of a Harvard-style book entry in a reference list would be:
Author or authors, followed by publication year in brackets, then title (usually in italics), edition (if any). This is followed by place of publication and publisher.
So is there any further help available?
On the Library web pages you will find detailed guides for both the Harvard and British Standard referencing systems
You can also have a go with PLATO - our new online tutorial on plagiarism and referencing.
We want you to succeed, so if you would like one-to-one help with referencing, both your Academic Liaison Librarian and Upgrade staff are available.
Script Lindsay Sellar
Narrator Rachel Knight