A Simple Guide to Referencing Styles
by Nayab Imran
Simple Guide to Referencing Styles
In universities across the world, students are judged and marked not only on the work that they submit, but also on the format they use and the references their work is based upon. One of the most common tasks students face in their academic life is to write papers that draw upon the research of others.
Students are required to mention or give credit to the sources they have borrowed facts or information from that is not common knowledge to the public. For example, we all know that Islamabad is the capital of Pakistan. But if we were to include the total population of Islamabad in our paper, we would need to provide the source of that information as various surveys differ in opinion.
This is called Referencing. The basic definition of referencing would be ‘to provide a book or article with citations of sources of information’. A referencing style is a set of guidelines which you can use to acknowledge the thoughts, ideas and works of other researchers in a particular way. Following are some of the commonly used Simple Guide to Referencing Styles around the world:
APA; stands for the American Psychological Association and is primarily used in the USA.
MLA; stands for Modern Language Association and is used particularly in the USA.
Harvard; mostly used in UK and Australia.
Vancouver; mainly used in scientific and medical papers.
Chicago and Turabian; these are two different styles but are mostly used for referencing in history and economics.
The APA Referencing style is used primarily in the USA, specifically by the Social Sciences and the institutions affiliated with it. The APA style helps a student to cite a source and format their paper/essay/thesis in a clear and consistent manner. The elements of APA style include in-text matters such as punctuation standards, margin depth, heading format and line spacing.
When citing a book in APA, always remember to capitalize the first letter of the first word of the title and any subtitles, as well as the first letters of any proper nouns. Furthermore, the full title of the book, including any subtitles, should be stated and italicized.
Example: Author. (Year of Published). Title of Book. City, State: Publisher.
MLA Referencing Style:
MLA stands for Modern Language Association. It is most often used to write papers and cite sources by the students of the liberal arts and humanities. It is also arguably the most well used among all citation styles.
Example: Author. Title of Book. Publisher, Publication Date.
Harvard Referencing Style:
This referencing style is mostly used by university students in the UK and Australia. It is a kind of small notes that a student uses within the text of the paper. While using the Harvard referencing, you need to include the author’s last name and the date of publication in brackets after the citation in the body of your paper.
The full reference list or bibliography is mentioned in the end of your paper in an alphabetic reference list. Footnotes and endnotes are not used in this style.
Format: Author, Publication Date, Title of Book, Edition, Publisher, Place of Publication.
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Vancouver Referencing Style:
Vancouver is a numbered referencing style commonly used in medicine and science with citations being indicated by the use of numbers and a sequentially numbered reference list that is provided at the end of the document with full details of the corresponding in-text citations.
Format: Author, Title of Book. Place of Publication: Publisher; Date of Publishing.
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Chicago Referencing Style:
The Chicago NB (notes and bibliography) system is commonly used in the humanities and provides writers with a set of guide lines for referencing their sources through the use of footnote and endnote citation in their writing and through bibliography. This also gives the writers an opportunity to comment on those reference sources.
Footnote format: Note Number. Author, Title of Book: Subtitle of Book (Place of Publication: Publisher’s Name, Date of Publication), Page Number(s).
What Is The Significance Of Referencing?
Citations and referencing is an important aspect of academic writing, they don’t only help to avoid plagiarism but they have some other significant roles as well and in this way it is always important to add citations and referencing in the end of content writing.
When you do referencing you acknowledge the work done by other writers and research workers in the past. When you get help from the work of previous research workers and writers, it is always important to mention it in the form of citations and all universities are supposed to do it as a form of appreciation to the previous writers.
When you do referencing, you are directly or indirectly crediting old writers since their work has been helpful for your assignment, you borrowed their ideas. When you do citation of any specific scholar, you also give an honor and respect to the intellectual property rights of that particular research worker. You can do million of ideas and arguments as a student when you publish the work of other writers. You need to have a thorough knowledge on their contribution as you are doing your assignment.
With the help of referencing, you offer evidence to support the claims and other assertions in your work. When in your own field you do citations, you also mark it in the written form that you are aware of the work which has been done in the past in this field. You also map the space of your discipline with the help of citations and this also allows you to browse the way through the study field which you have chosen, it is almost the same way as sailors guide by the stars.
But while doing referencing you need to be very careful as accuracy is much needed. Reference sensibly and allow the readers to trace the information source which you have used in your work. Try to keep the record of all the sources you have used while reading and doing research work for your investigation and this is a key to accurate referencing.
You can make your writing more persuasive with the help of citations.
The information which is needed to be referenced:
Acknowledgement is not only needed for the printed books, you can make use of any word, concept, idea or data from any source for the proper referencing.
You need to reference when you are making use of ideas or concepts or even words from:
1. Any journal article or a text book
2. Magazine and other newspapers
3. Informative brochures or pamphlets
4. Documentaries and advertisements, in the same way some films and television programs can be used in referencing.
5. Electronic sources and relevant websites.
6. Emails, some online discussion forums, letters etc
7. Any personal statement from an interview
In any case where you reprint any figure or diagram, charts or pictures you need referencing as well.
When Referencing Is Not Needed?
On the other hand, you don’t need to add referencing in some conditions mentioned below:
1. When you are mentioning your own thoughts, observations and your own experimental determination. For example, if you are writing about a field trip, there is no need to add referencing.
2. When you are writing your personal experiences such as a reflective journal, there is no need of any citation or referencing.
3. Evaluation of your own analysis
4. When using something too common, a piece of knowledge for example which is too popular and acknowledged by many people.
Making use of the facts and information which is generally accepted publicly.
Referencing or citing your sources is an important part of academic writing. It also helps to avoid plagiarism; which is highly frowned upon in the academic world. The simplest way to avoid mistakes is to use the style your institution recommends and not to mix and match.
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