The Complete Guide to Referencing and Avoiding Plagiarism

The Complete Guide to Referencing and Avoiding Plagiarism

The Complete Guide to Referencing and Avoiding Plagiarism

The Complete Guide to Referencing and Avoiding Plagiarism


Why is there so much emphasis on citing sources in some written work? How can I be sure I am referencing sources correctly? What is plagiarism and how do I avoid it? There is a great deal of emphasis on accurate referencing in written work for university students, and those writing for professional purposes, but little information on the 'when', the 'why', as well as the 'how' of referencing. This book fills that gap, giving clear guidelines on how to correctly cite from external sources, what constitutes plagiarism, and how it can be avoided. A unique feature of the book is the comparisons it makes between different referencing styles - such as Harvard, APA, MLA and Numerical referencing styles - which are shown side-by-side. This provides a useful guide, for students as they progress through higher education, and particularly for those on combined studies courses - who may be expected to use two, and sometimes three, different referencing styles. Other special features in the book include: Essays demonstrating referencing in action Exercises on when to reference, and on what is, and what is not, plagiarism A 'Frequently Asked Questions' section on the referencing issues that most often puzzle people A detailed guide to referencing electronic sources, and advice on how to choose reliable Internet sites A Complete Guide to Referencing and Avoiding Plagiarismis essential reading for all students and professionals who need to use referencing to accurately reflect the work of others and avoid plagiarism.


The title of this book is a somewhat impertinent one, for reasons that will become clearer later in this preface. The book is likely to be of interest to you if you are currently studying in higher education or on a pre-degree course in a school or college. It presents, discusses and gives you examples of the main referencing systems found in higher education in Britain. However, it also tries to explain the principles of referencing: a practice that often worries, exasperates or baffles many students.

It also describes and illustrates, what often seems to the casual observer, the often small differences between the main referencing styles applied in Britain. They may be small differences, but their academic guardians will often fiercely defend the referencing styles described in this book. Particular referencing styles are adopted by subject disciplines, for reasons linked to history, professional practice, or for reasons of personal whimsy by heads of department – and defended thereafter by them, often out of sheer cussedness, against administrators who try to introduce uniformity of referencing practice across an institution.

The guide, I hope, may prove particularly useful to those of you who encounter a range of referencing styles in your progression through pre-degree, undergraduate and postgraduate studies. Undergraduates, for example, on a combined studies degree, may find themselves having to reference sources in two or more styles as they encounter different disciplines, with each discipline wedded to its own referencing style preference. The graduate may then move on to a postgraduate programme and encounter a completely new referencing style – and with tutors insistent that they meticulously cite and reference their sources in line with departmental practice.

Although the author-date (Harvard) referencing style appears to be a significant one in higher education in Britain (see results of a survey, Chapter 5), the American Psychological Association (APA) and Modern Languages Association (MLA) styles still retain their firm holds respectively in psychology and language disciplines. In addition, numerical referencing styles, including those recommended by the Modern Humanities research Association (MHRA) and Institute of Electrical and Electronic Engineers (IEEE), still maintain a strong presence in a wide range of humanities, science and technology courses.

However, although the author-date (Harvard) referencing style, followed by the two numerical styles, appear to be most significant referencing styles in Britain, the benchmark guides for their application, British Standard recommendations, are less satisfactory, compared with others, particularly APA and MLA. The referencing style guides produced by the APA, MLA, MHRA and IEEE are all written by their respective associations in clear prose, with easy to follow referencing examples and with the rules of the referencing game spelt out unambiguously to their disciples.

British Standard (BS), however, presents the author-date (Harvard) and two numerical . . .

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