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An Overview on Referencing

When completing academic essays for a coursework assignment, it is important for students to provide the proper referencing as well. Referencing is loosely termed as the act of crediting sources included in any written composition. Referencing reflects the students’ act of intensive research before their professors, ensuring that the essays they have written are sound and accurate.

If the students’ research leads them to consult many sources, they will be spending a lot of time reading. Not every source will turn out to be useful. Once the students have decided that a certain source is useful, students may take a few times noting the source of the information for their reference.

The main purpose of referencing in an essay is to document the sources and to give credit to the proponent whose words or ideas are being used in the essay or dissertation. It assists other students and readers to look for other sources if they wish to pursue a topic related to what the essay has discussed. It ultimately prevents students from committing plagiarism, an unethical act of assuming ownership of certain ideas, thoughts or concepts that are not originally theirs.

In general, referencing should be exercised for the following materials:

  • Direct quotations
  • A restatement of a certain proponent’s words or ideas
  • Facts, statistics and other quantitative information
  • Transcripts from interviews, surveys and other data collection instruments

A reference must contain all the information a reader might need, including the author, title, publication place and date and page numbers, among others. Electronic sources, for example, require the actual date the URL has been accessed by the writer.

There are also various referencing formats that students can use, such as the Harvard, Oxford, MLA (Modern Language Association), BMJ (British Medical Journal), APA (American Psychological Association), Vancouver and Chicago styles.

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