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Citing references correctly

If you are submitting assignments, essays or theses then you are required to correctly reference any ideas, images, data, reference lists you have used which are not your own. This also includes data and information you have obtained from electronic sources including the Internet.

Failure to give credit to the work of others can result in you being accused of plagiarism which if proven could result in no marks being given for your work or suspension from your course or even expulsion from your College or university.

There are two main methods of referencing articles. These are known as the author-date or the Harvard method and the author-number or Vancouver system.

Normally your university or College will specify how you should reference your work. The Harvard method is used frequently in scientific writing.

Note while the Harvard system of referencing is controlled, some variation in the use of capital letters, italics, the use of parentheses and text styles does occur in different institutions and journals. Please check the 'house style' that is specified for your publication, thesis, dissertation or assignment before submitting your work.

Some students have difficulty in citing particular types of reference. These in my experience include electronic media, including Emails, articles from Wikipedia and Mintel reports. Wizards for the completion of these reference sources are included.

There are several ways in which Emails can be referenced. The Email addresses of the sender and the recipients can also be included however I do not recommend this approach for privacy and other reasons. If you have to include addresses then the permission of the other parties involved should be obtained.

Students should use citations to Wikipedia with caution. Some academics and teachers believe that Wikipedia is not a reliable source of information source and may 'force' their values on others resulting in low or fail marks being given to work supported by citations from this source. In some institutions consideration is being given to blocking student access to this information source.

A brief search of the Internet will provide many examples of where articles in Wikipedia have been altered to include erroneous information or have been written to influence the views of others using false information.

Hence students must use Wikipedia with caution and under no circumstances should it be the only citation used to justify an argument, stance or view; it is not reliable enough to be used in this way. In situations like this students would have little defence to criticism and possible academic consequences. However Wikipedia does have many strengths, not least the facility to discuss and 'correct' articles and its open source nature means that it is freely available to users.

In many institutions and journals, you are not permitted to include references that are not subject to authentication in the formal list of literature cited; Email and other personal communications belong to this category. Instead these are mentioned in the text e.g. Tribles have a very high reproductive capacity (J.T. Kirk, personal communication, June 12, 1989).

Go to Harvard reference wizard.

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