Why Referencing is Important for Academic Writing

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When it comes to citations in academic writing, for many students this is the least favorite and the most dispiriting part. Referencing styles are many. They include Harvard, Vancouver, Chicago, and American Psychological Association styles, with each having its own peculiarities.

Depending on the institution, professor, or subject, the requirements may differ, and it is better to clear out all the ins and outs from the get-go rather than reap the wasted fruits. Violation of referencing principles oftentimes leads to students receiving significantly lower grades for even good papers, so it is important to take some time to get the hang of the referencing science.

Why Citation Is Important?

Students, as much as their readers, can benefit from good referencing in many ways. When giving academic assignments, professors expect students to do extensive research on the topic, scrutinize other papers available in this field, and outline their personal take on the subject based on the information learned.

A rich and properly done list of citations proves a student’s commitment and diligence. Normally, students have to include all the sources they gleaned information from, as well as mention the names of the authors. Thus, professors can easily understand the volume of work done, as well as verify the credibility of information a student leans on.

Furthermore, by referencing the sources they use, students can give their readers an understanding of how up-to-date this information is, as well as an opportunity to come back to it later for their own research or personal interest if the necessity occurs.

Finally, a student’s personal opinion, yet immature as it is, is not sufficient ground unless it is reinforced by solid facts and arguments stated by reputable researchers and scientists in this field. When citing opinion leaders, students give more credibility and value to their own academic paper and invest in better grades.

Referencing Against Plagiarism                                

Referencing is also the way to protect yourself from a serious academic offense such as plagiarism. Every time you’re using the thoughts, ideas, or resources born by someone else’s brainwork without mentioning their names, students risk being accused of plagiarism, get zero points for their paper, or even be expelled if done repeatedly.

When it comes to plagiarism control in universities and colleges, they are very serious about the authenticity of students’ work. Plagiarism finders college professors usually use are supplemented with an extensive database that includes thousands of books, academic papers, articles, research papers of previous students, whatnot. So if plagiarism happens to be, it’s just a matter of time when a student gets caught.

How to Master Referencing?

When you understand the sacred meaning and the principles of referencing, the job doesn’t seem so confusing anymore. However, sometimes students choose to take the easiest way out and delegate their research to some cheap paper writing service, which is always a loot box. While there are decent paper writers on the internet, statistically, only one out of ten can be considered a reliable service. And, therefore, it is always a good idea to know the referencing algorithms – at least, to make sure that the job was done properly.

When it comes to citation, precision matters. Once you start studying the materials for your paper, make detailed notes of the resources you use, including the authors’ names, the titles of their papers or books, the number of pages, and other necessary information to be aware of when completing the reference list.

A bibliography has a strict pattern. For example, it is common to mention authors with their last names coming before the initials. If there are 4 authors and more, the pattern will look like this: Smith J.D. et al. This is short for a Latin phrase “et alia”, which means “and others”.

When the name of the author is unknown, or you are using an article from the website, where the writer’s name wasn’t mentioned, the name of the organization, the webpage, or the article should be included instead.

Publication date is also very important. It gives readers an idea of how relevant the information is in the context of the research. When including the date, you should be as specific as possible. So, if you know the exact day, make sure to mention it. In the case when there is no such information, put the “no date” phrase in the brackets.

Good Formatting is Essential

The title of the source – a book you quote from, a journal where you took an article, or the website you based your research on – should be mentioned in italics. For books, there is also a requirement to include its edition. As sometimes the information may be changed or reordered between the editions, including its number will simplify further search or reference.

With this exact purpose, students are also required to mention page numbers they take information from. Include one page as “p. 456” or multiple pages as “pp. 456-458”.

For websites, you have to put its full URL-address, as well as the day when you last accessed it.  As the internet is very dynamic, and the information can be added, changed, or deleted anytime, it is, therefore, necessary to point out the date when you found the information you refer to.

Final Thoughts

The referencing job might not be the most fascinating and fun part of writing a paper as it requires following strict rules and obeying certain referencing style patterns. At the same time, a good citation part is what gives a student’s academic research weight and credibility, as well as keeps him safe from accusations of plagiarism.

In contrast to common student opinion, completing the citation part is quite easy when you know a few simple rules. However, as requirements may differ in various cases, make it a habit to clear out all the uncertainties you may have before getting down to the assignment.

Finally, if you don’t want your reference list to work against you, refer only to the trustworthy resources in your paper and avoid the rest.


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