What is Referencing? Part 1

The word reference in a dictionary

Task: write a 500 word essay on the subject of What is referencing?

“Referencing” comes from the noun “reference” and describes the act of referring to an external data source. That could be an article, interview or any other type of information. This begs the question of its origins, when it is used and why, which will be discussed in the following.

The frequently-used and most common referencing system is the Harvard referencing style, which was firstly published in form of an author-year style among footnotes in a work by a certain Edward Laurens Mark in 1881, a Harvard University Professor (Chernin 1988, p. 1062). Yet it is presumed that he based this style on the cataloguing system of the Harvard museum of Comparative Zoology library. Prior this date there was no evidence for a uniform style. The introduction of this new method eased way to access and understand academic work for its readers. Even when it is unclear how and were it was invented, it is clear that it the most used method, in writing.

In general, referencing is used and permitted, whenever someone publishes or expresses something, based on external data, which can not be defined as common knowledge. For instance, if a student quote an opinion of someone else, he needs to refer to the original. Not only within the writing, known as citations, but also in the referencing-list and bibliography at the end. However, it ought be also known if and when not to reference. Referring is required, if a paragraph, an opinion, image, diagram or any other specific source is used. Furthermore it is required, that referencing is done in the correct way, because there is more than one way of doing it. To know when to use which style depends mainly on to whom it is addressed and for what it is going to be used for.

There are plenty of reasons to make use of references. Firstly, it demonstrates that the writer used a wide range of different information sources and considered other opinions, beyond of his own. In order to process or access the value of data he deemed as important, to illustrate and outline his own view more objective. Secondly, referencing supports the argument of the writer to make it more valuable. And finally, but most important, through referencing does the writer avoid the reproach of plagiarism. This ‘is a term that describes the unacknowledged use of someone’s work … (published or unpublished)’ (Pears, R. and Shields, G. 2013, p. 1). Consequently, it should be secured that every piece of writing, if foreigners data is included is than also correctly referenced. Not only that this is ensuring, that the writing is accepted, but also because it is rises its value of it.

All things considered it is clear that referencing allows the reader to understand and track the given subjective data back to there objective original sources, so that he can build himself an opinion. Despite this, it opens the audience the choice to find more and deeper information about the subject if so waned to, and if needed.

Reference List

Chernin, E. (1988) “The ‘Harvard system’: a mystery dispelled”, British Medical Journal. October 22, 1988, pp. 1062–1063.

Pears, R. and Shields, G. (2013) Cite them right : the essential referencing guide. Ninth Edition. Basingstoke, England: Palgrave Macmillan. Palgrave study skills


Academic Skills Tutors/Librarians, Information Services (May 2013 ) Harvard Referencing Quick Guide. Available at: https://www.staffs.ac.uk/assets/harvard_quick_guide_tcm44-47797.pdf (Accessed: 01.11.2015).

Chambers, E. and Northedge, A. (2008) The arts good study guide. Second edition. Milton Keynes: Open University. Open University set book

Chernin, E. (1988) “The ‘Harvard system’: a mystery dispelled”, British Medical Journal. October 22, 1988, pp. 1062–1063.

Cottrell, S. (2013) The study skills handbook. Fourth edition. Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan. Series and volume number if relevant.

Leeds University Library (2015) Academic Skills, Referencing. Available at: http://library.leeds.ac.uk/skills-referencing (Accessed: 01.11.2015).

McMillan, K. and D. B., J. (2013) How to cite, reference & avoid plagiarism at university. Harlow: Pearson. Smarter study skills

Pears, R. and Shields, G. (2013) Cite them right: the essential referencing guide. Ninth Edition. Basingstoke, England: Palgrave Macmillan. Palgrave study skills

Queen’s University Belfast (2015) cite2write. Available at: http://www.qub.ac.uk/cite2write/introduction.html (Accessed: 01.11.2015).

Rudd, David. The Library University of Bolton (2007) CITE ME, I’M YOURS – HARVARD VERSION REFERENCES, BIBLIOGRAPHIES, NOTES, QUOTATIONS, ETC.. Available at: http://www.bolton.ac.uk/library/LibraryPublications/StudySkills/Harvard07.pdf (Accessed: 01.11.2015).

University of Southern Queensland (2015) What is referencing?. Available at: https://www.usq.edu.au/library/referencing/what-is-referencing (Accessed: 01.11.2015).

University of Wolverhampton (2015) Skills for learning, Referencing. Available at: http://www.wlv.ac.uk/lib/skills-for-learning/referencing/ (Accessed: 01.11.2015).


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