Study Skills

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Referencing

Referencing is important as this is how you acknowledge the books and other sources you have used to write an essay or conduct your research. To copy or use somebody’s work without acknowledgement, and treat it as your own, is plagiarism. It is good to use other people’s ideas, data, words and images, as well as material from the Internet, as long as you show who created the material and where you got it from.

Reference systems may differ from subject to subject so always check with your teacher about which system they would like you to use.

Referencing FAQs
Referencing Videos
Reference Generators

Referencing FAQs

This section looks at some general answers for frequently asked questions when referencing sources.

What to do if there's no author

Harvard & APA: If there is no personal author, and it's clear that an organisation created the work, then you can use the organisational name as author. Only use Anonymous if the source clearly states an anonymous author. If there is no personal author and no clear organisational author, use the title as the first element in the reference entry and move the date to after the title.

MLA: If there is no personal or organisational author listed, omit the author and move on to the next element in the reference entry.

What to do if there's no date

Harvard: If there is no date listed, use n.d. where you would normally put the date.

APA: Use (n.d.) where you would normally put the date.

MLA: Omit the date and move on to the next element in the reference entry.

What to do if there's no title (including images)

Harvard & APA: Create a descriptive title of the work and add it in square brackets ([ ]) as the title element of the reference entry.

MLA: Create a descriptive title of the work and add it as the title of source or title of container accordingly.

Noting different editions

Harvard & APA: If an edition is listed, add the edition number followed by ed. in brackets after the title element of the reference entry.

MLA: Use the version element to show the edition number.

Noting different formats of sources

Harvard: Add a format descriptor after the title element of a reference entry, separated by commas.

APA: Add a format descriptor after the title element of a reference entry in square brackets ([ ]).

MLA: Add a format descriptor at the very end of the reference entry in a new sentence as an unexpected type of work. This is an optional element.

What to do if there's no publisher or the publisher isn't clear

Harvard: Some works may be independently published by the author, or an organisational author may also be the publisher. Do not duplicate the author as the publisher, instead omit the publisher element. If the work isn't published by the author and there is no publisher listed, use s.n. (sine nomine) instead in square brackets.

APA: Do not duplicate the author as the publisher, instead omit the publisher element. If the work isn't published by the author and there is no publisher listed

MLA: Use what information is provided as either publisher or other contributor. Do no duplicate the author if they are also the publishers. If there is no publisher, omit the publisher element and move on to the next element of the reference entry.

What to do if there's no location for the publisher listed

Harvard: Use s.l. (sine loco) instead.

APA: Publisher location is not an element that is used in APA.

MLA: Publisher location is not an element that is used in MLA.

Referencing Videos

Middle School

The Year 7 & 8 referencing videos can be accessed here. These videos talk through the referencing process at an appropriate level for Middle School students.

Reference Generators

There are many online referencing generators you can use. All should be used with caution, as the information may not be correct and the layout and order of information may not be the one required by your teacher. However, they can be a way for you to file and save lists of resources that you use and are a great starting point for building your reference list.

Referencing generators usually provide a reference in multiple styles, so make sure you select the appropriate style for your class. Make sure you also select the appropriate reference type for your source, whether it is a website, a journal or a book. Some generators also have an app available which may make it easier for you to manage your references.

Reference Generators

It is very important that you always cite the references you use. This will ensure you are not accused of plagiarism and you are showing you that you understand the importance of acknowledging where you have obtained the information you have used.

You can make referencing easier by:

  • Keeping an accurate record of all the details of every source you use. You will need to have the details of the author, the title of the book or journal article, title of the journal, year of publication, page numbers, etc.
  • Making sure you understand the type of referencing system your teacher expects you to use.
  • Allowing time to create your reference list. It will take much longer than you expect, but you will get better the more often you do it.
  • Coming to the Library to ask for help!