In academic writing, referencing your work is just as important as the work itself. Knowing how to reference your work properly gives your argument the much-needed support it needs; it will also give your career the academic finish it needs to pass. Referencing properly also shows your level of understanding and knowledge of the topic you are researching. Otherwise known as scholarly referencing, in this article, you will see the various ways you can reference your academic work, thesis, project, and dissertation instead of the referencing styles used when writing your CV, for example.
What is scholarly referencing?
Scholarly referencing here refers to conventions used to direct readers towards specific information sources, data, and statistics that you have quoted or cited in your work. Referencing is a major criterion when writing an academic project, not just because it adds credibility to your body of work; it also helps the reader understand your premise better because these references aid them when they embark on further reading.
Why and when do I reference?
There are several reasons why referencing is an important requirement in scholarly work and dissertation writing, but the most important is avoiding plagiarism.
- To avoid plagiarism
The primary reason why referencing is a requirement in every university is to avoid plagiarism. Plagiarism is the indiscriminate lifting of information and publishing them under your name without giving due credits to the original author. In most countries of the world, plagiarism is intellectual theft and is considered a crime. Hence referencing became important, not just to reference other people’s work but also to contain data, paraphrases, and schools of thought on a particular topic.
- What referencing system do I use?
There are several referencing systems and techniques you can employ, depending on your field of study. For example, in Arts and Humanities, the most acceptable referencing system is the parenthetical referencing and footnote references. In contrast, the most common system is the parenthetical and numerical referencing styles in sciences and social sciences.
How to reference your sources effectively and consistently?
- Use software to help you
Numerous software can help you correctly reference your work, such as Zotero, EndNote, RefWorks, and so on. While EndNote and RefWorks offer subscription and unlimited access to numerous features, Zotero is a free-to-use software and offers far less sophistication and far fewer citation formats.
- General Referencing
There are specific referencing styles and systems. There is a standard procedure for referencing your work. These procedures are a list of things your references must contain, regardless of discipline or referencing method employed;
- The author of the work
- The title of the work
- The type of publication (e.g., the whole book, book chapter, webpage, journal article, etc.)
- Date and year of publication
- The publisher and place of publication
- If applicable, additional details (volume and issue number, page range) enable your reader to find the specific source.
Note that while every discipline has its way of reference, this is very consistent, the reason why referencing is important, and the details your referencing must contain.