Why Is Referencing So Important? What Is The Big Deal?

General referencing means acknowledging the work of others you’ve used to develop and support your own ideas. A reference refers your readers to the outside source such as a book or journal article, a picture or a website.

Supplying references shows that you’ve found and read appropriate materials for your work and also given proper acknowledgement to other people’s work that came before yours. References are an essential part of academic writing and using them will also help you demonstrate to faculty and peers that you’re part of an academic community and understand how to present your work in a scholarly way. 

Depending on the academic subject, reference lists are often presented at the end of assignments. A typical reference list will alphabetically list each source you have mentioned or cited in the body of your work and include the name and initials of the author, the date of the publication and the name of the article and journal that comes from. 

Book references often include place of publication and publisher name. Citations or in-text citations are abbreviated references found in the body of academic texts. 

References direct your reader to the sources you’ve used in your writing in the same way citations are also signposts. Only this time they direct your reader to the reference list as a

result. Citations are very short often including only the author’s surname and year of publication and sometimes the page number. Every time you cite another author’s work, whether by quoting

directly or paraphrasing ideas, you’re required to provide an in-text citation to acknowledge the work and to signpost your reader to the reference list. 

This might be for example when you are discussing significant research findings of others. You would not be expected to provide a citation for common knowledge such as dates of events or names of public figures, even if you’ve read about them in a book or article. Depending on your subject you’ll follow a specific style guide such as Harvard or APA to assist you in creating accurate and uniformly formatted citations. 

Referencing and citation is a necessity but it needn’t be a headache. 

Remember these tips:

  • Be sure to find and become familiar with a referencing style guide for your subjects before you start writing. You can then incorporate the correct type of citation as you write. 
  • Keep the style guide handy and refer to it often. 
  • Use the examples as a template for your own references. 
  • Above all keep clear and detailed notes of your research list. All the sources you’ve read and note down exactly, where any quotes come from. A good recording system will save you many hours at the end of an assignment searching for details of your sources. 

You’ve made a good first step if you now understand why referencing and citation are important. Remember that there’s always help out there from your educator or tutors at Seat Academy.

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