Often students are required to hand in papers or homework that prove they have learned what was supposed to be learned; often they are required to submit work that shows the material has been incorporated in their database of knowledge. It’s not enough to submit an opinion – the opinion must be based on facts and on theories others have proposed.

References and citations are therefore very important – it shows that the student is not simply coming up with a theory or opinion out of thin air, but it is based on those who have gone before him or her. Referencing, however, can be hard. Having trouble citing the right material? This one is for you. Referencing for the academe: your all-important guide.

Why cite and reference?

It’s not just to show that you have accrued knowledge; it’s also to show that you have honour. Here’s why you should use references:

  • Give credit where credit is due – if you’ve borrowed an idea, state the source
  • Validation of your arguments and back-up of your facts and opinions
  • To allow the reader to check your sources and follow-up your research in detail
  • To prove you have read the necessary materials

Beware of plagiarism

It’s a tricky thing – an idea is an idea and can technically not be patented – but you get the idea; if you quote something and pretend it’s your own train of thought, you might be liable for plagiarism. Never present something you have read or heard as your own; always quote or cite.

Get organised

You’ll need to organise your thesis first in order to make it readable and comprehensible to the audience; so get organised. Present your case in a systematic fashion.

What needs to be recorded

If you quote directly from a book or transcript, you should mention the following:

  • Author(s)
  • Title of the piece
  • Date of publication
  • Publisher information
  • Pages and paragraphs of reference

If you choose to have an interview and want to use the quotes, make sure you have the interview on record and are able to refer to it in a proper way by way of transcript. Make it easier on yourself by turning to transcription services, whether it’s a legal transcription for law coursework, etc. Transcription services in the UK offer all sorts of services, be it legal transcription, corporate transcription, general academic transcription, and more.

Quoting directly

Use direct quotation marks (so all can understand that what is being recounted is actually a quote), and mention the author (or interviewee) as well as source (publication) and the date.

It’s important to do all the citing and referencing in the correct way. There are various formats in which this should be done, and chances are you have to use one of those standard. It takes a little getting used to, but it benefits everyone when things are done right. Good luck!

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