©2008 ElementE Ltd
Oh, the headaches this causes some
people! Here are some tips to avoid the angst.
Quite apart from the fact that any academic course will require 'references' or 'a bibliography', you want to present a professional face. Referencing:
There are a number of different referencing systems in use and, if you are enrolled on a course, you should check your Student Handbook or Regulations to see which one is preferred. However, the principle of all reference systems remains the same: anyone who
should be able to find the original source with ease.
This means all your references must follow the same format as each other. For example, no-one should have to try and work out if Stefan George is the same as George S or Stefan G because all names should be the 'same way round' and, if the first name is abbreviated the first time, then it is always abbreviated.
Page numbers are required in some systems but not others. If you use page numbers, you must give editions. Courses with lots of short texts or with lots of online texts do not normally need page numbers.
Internet references provide a relatively new source of complication and, if your subject area is new, nearly all your references will be online. You have no choice: tell people the last date on which you checked all the references and make sure you give the full web page address. It is not acceptable to give the home page when the article or quotation is on a sub-page. If you have a lot of internet references, give a separate section. If you only have a few internet references compared to print ones,
Audio/TV references. These are rarely suitable but, when they are, you need to give the broadcaster and the transmission date because determined research can find the transcripts.
Simple bibliography system
Your college/university may not like the following system but it shows the principle and, if you have a choice and want to stick to something that is easy to use, try this.
As above but add the page at the end:
Chapters. If you want to reference a chapter in a book, use the following system:
Journals and newspapers
Give the date of publication as accurately as possible (to the day, for newspapers) and always reference the article writer using the same system as 'chapters' above.
For web references
If you have lots of references, create a separate section and give the date when you last verified all the links. If you have more web references than book/paper references, or they are more important, it is acceptable to put them first. Remember: one click on the link should take people straight there. If the website requires a password, use a screen-grab (PrintScreen) and make this an attached pdf instead. Do not crop/edit it.
Remember: wikipedia is very rarely a suitable academic reference. (See Secondary references)
Something similar to this:
ISBNs and ISSNs
Some systems require you to give these, others do not. They are the best way of identifying a work but that is no comfort if you have forgotten to record them so do develop a system for this (see below).
When you want to make a reference to something you have read by 'Bloggs' in a book that was in fact written by 'Smith', this is called a secondary reference. You should always read the original and reference that if you can but there are times when you need to use the intermediary. For example, a very authoritative report may cost thousands of dollars but a reputable summary may be free and all you need is the basic information available in the summary. Some university systems require you to list 'Secondary sources' separately. Most will allow you to list them using the same system as 'Chapters'.
If more than a few words, these are usually indented and the author and date are given right aligned underneath. E.g.
The reference section then shows the full source:
Some courses and portfolio systems require 'Narratives'. This is not an invitation to write a version of your journal/diary. Evaluators may cry with you, laugh with you and like you (and your family) enormously but that is not the point and not what they are there to check. All the writing should be in the third person e.g. 'People should', 'It is expected that...' 'Usual procedures include...' You then have to make these generalised examples fit with documents that can be put in the bibliography. That means you have to do very careful referencing because your assessor will have almost no time to look and check and if they cannot look and check, guess what: you fail. One of the biggest worries for assessors is that they can see people are able but they cannot give academic credit when people do not follow academic rules. It is unfair to say 'ignore wikipedia' but that is not normally a good finishing point. Also, if you have a long document on the internet that is divided into chapters, it may be better for you to take that document and make a pdf so you can reference specific pages. (NB: it helps if any scans and pdfs are the right way up!!! Assessors can be on planes or in hotels or conferences and have no access to a printer.)
Appearance in main text
Again, your institution may have a different method but here is a simple system that, if you apply it consistently, will normally be accepted.
Every mention like this in the main text must receive a full reference in the Bibliography.
Models and diagrams
If you invent these yourself, you need to give them a name. Whether you put the name above or below the diagram, centred or right aligned is up to you (or your institution) but the position and format must be the same on all your diagrams. That sounds silly - until you see an essay that has lots of diagrams one after the other and you have to work out which title belongs to which diagram. If you are using someone else's diagram you must always cite the shortened reference at the end of the title (e.g. Simplified Corporate Governance Model, Palmer, 2008) and put a full reference in the bibliography.
There is nothing worse than trying to find a missing reference at 3 a.m. when the essay has to be in at 8 a.m. Develop a system to avoid such nightmares.