What are citing and referencing?
While studying at LSE you will come across many ideas, thoughts and statements from other writers, either from material on your reading list, or while carrying out your own research. It’s important to learn how to properly acknowledge the work of other writers, while presenting it alongside your own thoughts and ideas. However, when using other people’s ideas you want to ensure you don’t inadvertently plagiarise by suggesting that their ideas are your own. For this reason, learning how to cite and reference properly is very important.
When you have used an idea from a book, journal article etc, you must acknowledge this in your text. This is referred to as 'citing' which you do by including a 'reference' at the end of your text to the original author.
Why do we need to cite and reference?
Citing and referencing is an extremely important part of writing academic work. Citing allows you to acknowledge the thoughts and opinion of other writers; for example to quote without plagiarising.
When writing any piece of academic work you want to be able to demonstrate the body of knowledge on which you have based your work. Citing also helps other students, researchers or your tutors to trace your sources and lead them on to further information. A standard system of citing has been developed to ensure it is simple to trace knowledge efficiently.
Organising your references as you study
While you are studying you will start to read lots of different materials and may well collect numerous references. It’s important to start thinking about this early on and to devise a way of managing your information that allows ease of sorting and retrieving. Some keys things to remember include:
- Consider organising your references electronically using software such as Endnote, Mendeley or Zotero.
- If you are collecting references in electronic format you can also include notes in both Endnote, Mendeley and Zotero.
- If you think you might use a quote from a book or article, make a note of what page it appears on and keep this together with the quote.
- Don't forget important information such as year of publication and the edition of a book can be checked on the Library Search.
- When paraphrasing (putting another author’s ideas/words into your own) you must remember to reference the original source.
- If you quote text, indicate clearly which part is quoted using double quotation marks (e.g., "This is a direct quote") and include the source of the quote in a citation.
- If the facts are common knowledge there is no need to provide a citation but if you are in any doubt it is better to be safe and cite the source!
An introduction to citing in the text
There are several different methods of citation but one of the most popular is the Harvard Citation System or citing in the text. It is sometimes called the Author-date method because when citing material in this manner you must list the author’s surname and the publication year, in the text of your work, every time you refer to a quote or an idea or concept from your source. For example:
The work of some authors (Patton, 1995) has emphasised the importance of evaluation in qualitative research.
If there are two authors you should use both names in the citation e.g. (Secker & Smith, 1999). If there are more than two authors use first author and et al (which means literally 'and others') e.g. (Secker et al, 1999).
If you have drawn on the ideas of several writers you can also include multiple references to different works in one citation, for example (Secker, 1999; Patton, 2006; Smith, 2007).
The more detailed information, such as the publication title and publisher are reserved for the bibliographical references at the end of your work.
An alternative way of referencing to citing in the text is to use footnotes (or endnotes) with footnote references and a bibliography at the end of your work. In LSE100 we recommend you use the Harvard Citation System (citing in the text) as this is the simplest way to reference and has several key advantages.
Advantages of in-text citations
One of the main advantages of citing in the text is that only the author and date of publication appear in the main body of work, which means all the references are listed at the end of your essay. References are listed in full in alphabetical order by author's surname, at the end of your essay, for example:
Aiken, T. (2007) Writing a good essay. New York: Palgrave.
Patton, S. (1995) Evaluation in qualitative research. London: Macmillian.
Smith, J. (2005) Structuring your arguments in academic writing. Oxford: Chandos.
The Harvard system also saves time when you are writing (or reading) an essay as the references can be seen quickly. It is also clear to the reader when you are quoting from important writers in a field, and whether your references are up to date. If you use footnotes for references you need to include the references in a footnote and also in a bibliography at the end, which leads to duplication of effort.
If you use a direct quotation from an author you should make this clear with quotation marks.
You should include the page number/s to show where the quote originated.
Example of short quotation:
Patton (1995, p.6) believes that “…evaluation is an essential part of qualitative research” and this could be argued to form the basis of his work.
If a quote is more than two lines of text indent the quote.
Example of a long quote:
Several studies have been written in this field of research methodology and it has been argued that:
“…evaluation is an essential part of qualitative research and should be considered before the researcher begins to undertake their fieldwork. Moreover, it is a crucial stage in the process.” (Patton, 1995, p.6)
Use an ellipsis (three full stops) to indicate any omitted text in a quote but be careful not to change the meaning if you remove any words in the middle of prose. For example:
"Sometimes a writer might ... remove some text from a sentence." (Patton, 1995, p.6)
If you what to include your own emphasis in a quotation (such as putting a word in bold) you need to state this as your emphasis in square brackets. In addition if you add a word to a quote, to make sense grammatically you indicate this with square brackets as well. For example:
"Sometimes a writer might emphasise [my emphasis] a word from a sentence." (Patton, 1995, p.6)
"Sometimes a writer might [include] a word into a sentence so that it makes sense." (Patton, 1995, p.6)
Dealing with multiple works by the same author
It is fairly common in certain subjects to find that one author may have written several publications and sometimes these appeared in the same year. To avoid confusion, lower-case letters are used when this is the case.
For example where Patton published two papers in 1995 they would be cited accordingly in the text:
Evaluation is recognised as being important (Patton, 1995a) and an essential part of the qualitative approach to research (Patton,1995b).
These two papers would then be listed in the bibliography accordingly:
Patton, Michael (1995a). Evaluation as a tool. Journal of Social Science, 18 (3) 345-356.
Patton, Michael (1995b). Doing qualitative research. Journal of Social Research, 6 (1) 23-28.
There can be considerable variation in how a citation is laid out, in terms of the order the pieces of information appear, the punctuation that is used and any formatting (such as italics) that is used. This is usually governed by something called a bibliographic style.
There are lots of bibliographic styles available, and you can even create your own. Different publishers often have what is called a ‘house style’ and if you go on to publish your own work you might be expected to lay out your references in accordance with this style.
However, when studying it is usual to follow precedents in your subject area and it is important to be consistent! LSE100 recommend you use a style called the American Psychological Association (APA) 7th style. It is used widely in the social sciences, and you don't need to be an expert but should try to follow this style. If you wish to find out more about it you can visit the APA website.
You can find out more abot how to references different texts here (LSE login required).