Principles of Referencing

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Referencing strikes fear into the hearts of many students. The topic is strongly emphasised by many lecturers, and blood-curdling threats of draconian [~ very strict] penalties are issued. Students should realise that referencing is a serious business, and failures in referencing may be taken very seriously by any educational institution.

However, when you have realised this, you may relax a little.

It is not easy to produce a perfect reference; but it is only a matter of paying attention - close attention - to detail. The art may be reduced to four Principles of Referencing. (It is worth pointing out that reducing a complex subject to four fundamentals is something that the particular teacher who wrote this has known to work. Other teachers, and other writers, put it in different ways. It is not uncommon to see bulleted lists with 5, 6, 7 or even more 'basics' of referencing. But the thinking is similar.)

This guide's Four Principles:

  1. Be honest. The reason for the threats is the crime of plagiarism.
  2. Make it possible for your reader to find and check any source you have mentioned. This is the best reason for referencing.
  3. Use your Department's system - with great care and attention to detail.
  4. Be consistent.

Don't forget to claim credit for your reading. If you have read a book or article, try to refer to it. Then the teacher who is marking your work can know that you have been doing some useful study.