Top Ten Tips: Referencing

By Shalini from the Student Team

Image 1 — Top Ten Tips Referencing

Referencing is one of the key new skills you will develop while at University. It is incredibly important that you reference all your work in an accurate manner in order to avoid plagiarism. Plagiarism is a serious academic offence, but there’s no need for you to stress about it! If you follow our Top Tips and use the Library’s guide, you’ll be a pro soon enough!

If you’d rather listen to our top tips, click on our podcast recording below:

Top Tip 1

Know the difference between a citation- specific source you mention within the body, and a reference- which goes into the list of sources you have cited.

Image Two — citations and references

A citation is a specific source that you mention in the body of your paper. The format of the citation may change depending on the style you use (e.g. Harvard and APA) and the way that you incorporate the citation into your writing, but the basic criteria of the citation that should be included are: name of the author(s), year of publication and page number or page range. If you quote a source directly you must include the exact page number in your citation or it is incomplete.

References, on the other hand are a list of the sources you have cited. The references come at the end of your paper. Every source listed in your references should be accessible by others who read your work. Think of it as a trail that you leave for readers to show them where they can go to find the original source for themselves

Top Tip 2

Use coloured highlighters to tell your own ideas and thoughts apart from the notes you made from other sources to avoid plagiarism.

Image 3 — coloured highlighters

Colour coding is a great way to organise your notes and is not as complex as it looks. By separating your own thoughts and ideas from other sources you can be sure to avoid plagiarism. Highlighters are also useful in a multitude of ways for revision as it helps students concentrate, and enhance their understanding. Just deciding what to highlight, encourages you to think critically and formulate your own response to the text.

Top Tip 3

Be aware of the specific edition of a book that you’re using, the page numbers may be differ from one edition to another.

Image 4 — specific editions

It is important to make sure you know and mention which edition of a book you are using. Besides page numbers, different editions may also cover different topics in different parts of the book. Being accurate is key when referencing and makes your work seem more organised and of high academic quality.

Top Tip 4

Establish a clean routine! Note down bibliographic information while doing research.

Top Tip 5 — Routine

Making a note of your references while doing your research will be a massive time-saver! It will also help you keep track of the sources you’re using and make sure that you use a balanced variety of sources to ensure a sound argument. It will also remind you to not miss out on any sources in your reference list.

Top Tip 5

Check your course handbook to see which reference style is required, as the university uses several different ones.

Image 6 — Course Handbook

There are multiple styles of referencing and the most commonly used referencing styles at The University of Manchester include Harvard, MLA and Vancouver. You can find detailed information on how to reference specific material using these styles in this guide.

Top Tip 6

The citation tool on Google Scholar provides examples of how you might reference the source. Make sure you double check the format before using it.

Image 7 — Google Scholar

Google Scholar is a great search engine to find sources, however be cautious when using their citation tool as it may not always fit the format that is required of you. Mistakes in referencing can cost you unnecessarily and can easily be avoided!

Top Tip 7

A list of references should contain all the sources you cited within your writing, while a bibliography includes all the sources you consulted with.

Image 8 — References and Bibliography

Keeping in mind Tip 1, where we established how important it is to use the sources of all your citations in your references, a bibliography should include any of the sources that you used to come to a judgement, even if you didn’t directly quote the source in your work. Your background reading on the topic, any academic or non-academic sources such as websites, newspaper articles etc. that helped in forming your opinions would be included in the bibliography.

Top Tip 8

Have a look at how academics do it! Peer-reviewed journal articles have great examples of reference lists, bibliographies and citations.

Image 9 — Peer-reviewed articles

The best way to learn is through examples and peer-reviewed journals are a great way to see what a reference list or bibliography looks like, especially when you’re just starting out!

Top Tip 9

Use reference management software (e.g. EndNote) to format your in-text citations and references lists with your chosen style.

Image 10 — in-text citations

Using reference management software such as EndNote and Mendeley is a great way to ensure perfect references. You can pick your preferred style and the software will aid you in creating you citations and reference lists. To familiarise yourself with how to access this software and use them, check out the Library’s guide.

Top Tip 10

Proofreading isn’t just for the body of your essay. Check your references before submitting your work- trivial errors cost marks!

Image 11 — Proofreading

Thorough proofreading will help you spot any little mistakes that you may have made and could potentially be what makes your essay a first class one! Small things like grammar, formatting, and structure are really important, both in your main body and the references of your work.

These tips will be incredibly helpful to you when you’re referencing your next essay! Make sure to come back to them whenever you need or visit the University of Manchester Library VERY useful Referencing guide!

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