How to Handle Citations and References?

First, let’s define our terms. A citation is any reference you make in a written paper of your own to something written by someone else. For instance:

“By studying competent participants in their own culture by the process of socialisation, Ward (1974) has coined the term ‘consumer socialisation’ to express the idea that competent participants can be regarded a conduit for word of mouth marketing”.

“The idea that participants are conduits for word of mouth marketing can be can be traced to the term “consumer socialisation” (Ward 1974)”.

In this case, Ward is acknowledged as the original source of the concept I am explaining to my readers, by means of a formal citation. As a general principle, you should always “cite your source” in this way whenever you are reporting someone else’s work or using their terminology. You will lose no marks for ‘borrowing’; on the contrary, you are supposed to have read the literature and assimilated the ideas of others. In fact, you may well lose marks for not citing. Examiners are usually pretty familiar with the most popular writers on a given subject, and will have a shrewd suspicion your explanation owes something to an undisclosed primary source.
Every citation in the text must correspond to a reference, which may be at the end of the work. The reference supplies the details the reader would need in order to follow up on your citation. For instance:

Ward, S (1974) Consumer Socialisation. Journal of Consumer Research, Vol.1, No 2, p2
References are gathered together under the heading ‘References’, not ‘Bibliography’.
The distinction is that a bibliography is a list of titles which may not necessarily be cited specifically in the accompanying text, though they do relate to it. There are two principal ways to make a citation and set out the accompanying reference, each fundamentally different from the other. They are the Sequence Number (or Oxford Method) and the Harvard method. Please note that the School states a clear preference for the Harvard Method.

Harvard Method

In the Harvard method, the passage in the text is treated thus:

….. by the process of socialisation. Ward (1974) has coined the term
or:
….. by the process of ‘consumer socialisation’ (Ward, 1974)

The date in brackets signals to the reader that this is a citation, without the need to allocate sequence numbers. The corresponding reference will take the form:
Ward, S (1974) Consumer Socialisation. Journal of Consumer Research, Vol.1, No 2, p2

The Harvard method has several practical advantages for you; it is, so to speak, user-friendly. First, if a citation is used repeatedly, there is no need to repeat the reference, with an ‘ibid.’ or ‘op.cit.’. Once is enough for all citations of exactly the same source. This is easier, and produces a shorter list of references. Second, there is no need to sequence number the references, since the citations aren’t. Third, suppose you need to update your paper at a late stage by including somewhere in mid-text a citation you have just found. In the sequence-number method, that will require you to re-number some of the other citations – perhaps most of them. In the Harvard method, you just insert it. A fourth advantage is that the Harvard method results in a list of references in alphabetical order, which the sequence-number method does not. This makes life far easier if you need to check that you have included someone, or find a particular reference at a later date; you don’t have to remember at which point in the text you made the citation. Furthermore, it helps examiners to check easily and quickly that you have referred to the one or two really well-known authorities on the particular subject. If we assume that you have, then this is to your advantage. Fifth, the Harvard method discloses the vintage of the cited material straight away, without the need to keep writing into your text such extra clauses as:

“In 1974, however, Ward (12) coined the term ….”

Since there are so many positive advantages, it will come as no surprise to you that the Harvard method is the one the School prefers. We like the References to be at the end of the whole thing, rather than at the foot of the page, in a paper, or at the end of each chapter in a dissertation. Finally, some minor technical points. Suppose Ward wrote two papers in 1974. You deal with this by using “1974a” and “1974b” in the relevant places in both citations and references. Or, perhaps you cite one of Ward’s papers several times but not always with reference to the same pages. In that case, write:

“…. according to Ward (1974, p12)”

or

“… the alternative term, ‘consumer socialisation’ (Ward, 1974, p8)”, for example.

The reference is simply to Ward’s article, without a specified page number. Notice that you do not use the author’s initials or first name in the citation. There are two exceptions. If he is very well known, you may say something like “…. as the guru of marketing management, Theodore Levitt (1976), put it ….” If there are two writers of the same name on the same subject, you should distinguish them by their initials in the citations: for instance “R Cox, (1973)” and “K Cox, (1980)”. Last of all, I should mention that there is some variation in the way users handle volume and part numbers. I have used “vol 1, no 2” throughout this note, but “1, (2)” is also common. That is a matter of choice. Use whichever you like best – but do be consistent.

Remember: tutors and examiners are always favourably impressed by meticulous referencing.

Footnotes

Footnotes should be avoided if possible. If used, they should be numbered consecutively and placed at the bottom of the page.

There are also differences between references and bibliography, you can read this article about it.

2016-11-10T15:00:28+00:00 Academic Skills|