Correct referencing becomes most important when incorporating the ideas of other scholars in your work, and is essential to avoid being accused of plagiarism. Complete and accurate referencing also demonstrates that you have command of the range of arguments and viewpoints discussed in your work.
It is not enough to include the source in a bibliography at the end of an assignment.
The simplest and clearest way to incorporate the ideas of other scholars into your work is to quote their words directly, using single quotation marks (double quotation marks are American), and acknowledge the exact source of the quotation (author, date and page at least) in the text or in a footnote.
The correct way to cite the source will be explained in later sections.
In this example, the author has acknowledged his indebtedness to 'Neville' with a citation in brackets, and has clearly differentiated the words of the source from his own with single quotation marks.
Sausages are one of the most popular barbeque foods in Britain. Unfortunately, as Neville (2005, p.45) has recently observed, 'the majority of barbeque-cooked sausages in Britain are completely ruined: the outside reduced to charcoal while the centre remains uncooked'.
The name of the author of the source does not have to appear in the main text, but must be acknowledged in a parenthetical (in brackets) citation or in a footnote, as in this example.
Few British men appear capable of cooking on a barbeque, especially sausages. As has recently been observed, most barbequed sausages are not only badly cooked but also 'completely ruined: the outside reduced to charcoal while the centre remains uncooked' (Neville 2005, p.45).
Be careful when quoting to copy the words of your source exactly! Do not change things so that the quote fits neatly into your sentence; if necessary, change your sentence in order to accommodate the quote.
If you are not quoting other scholars directly, you must express their ideas in your own words: close paraphrasing, where only a few words of each sentence are changed from the original, has no place in academic writing. Explaining the ideas of other scholars in your own words not only avoids the danger of plagiarism but also demonstrates that you have fully understood your source. Always take care to point out where paraphrasing occurs in your work and, as with direct quotations, acknowledge your source with an accurate citation.
It is very often obvious when close paraphrasing has taken place. Do not be tempted!
This is a passage taken from Oliver Rackham, The History of The Countryside (London: Phoenix, 2000), p. 39.
Wild cattle are probably the longest-running example in Europe of the conservation in semi-captivity of an otherwise extinct subspecies. They owe their survival to being a medieval status symbol; how they came to be such is unknown.
Here is an example of a properly referenced use of this passage. The words of the source are clearly distinguished from those of the author with single quotation marks and the source of the ideas expressed is acknowledged with a full reference in a footnote.
There are a number of herds of so-called 'wild cattle' in country parks in Britain. In his 'History of the Countryside', Oliver Rackham suggests that these herds are 'probably the longest-running example in Europe of the conservation in semi-captivity of an otherwise extinct subspecies' and attributes the cattle's survival to the fact that they were 'a medieval status symbol'.1
1 Oliver Rackham, The History of the Countryside (London: Phoenix, 2000), p. 39.
The following passage is an example of the wrong way to make use of the Rackham extract in a piece of work.
There are a number of herds of so-called 'wild cattle' in Britain. Their survival is due to their being a medieval status symbol, although it is unknown how they came to be such, and is one of the longest running examples of the conservation in semi-captivity in Europe of an otherwise extinct subspecies.
The author has copied Oliver Rackham's words and only made minor adjustments in their order. The ideas of the author have not been distinguished from those of Rackham and there has been no attempt to acknowledge the source of the information or ideas. This is plagiarism.
Here is another example
This is an extract taken from Jeremy Paxman, The Political Animal (London: Penguin, 2002), p. 197.
For the most part, senior civil servants have tended more to be noted for their sinewy persuasiveness or their mental gymnastics, like the 1960s Cabinet Secretary Burke Trend, of whom it was said that he could draft the most complicated White Papers in his head. But the problem with clever minds is that they need something to occupy them. Some ministers seem better able to grasp this than others. Aneurin Bevan, creator of the Labour Party's most lasting monument, the National Health Service, was one.
The following passage is an example of an acceptable use of this source. The author clearly distinguishes the words of Jeremy Paxman from his own with single quotation marks and acknowledges the source of the ideas and information in the main text and in a footnote.
While many may question the ability of the majority of the current stock of British politicians to run a government department, few express the same doubts about this country's senior civil servants. As Jeremy Paxman has recently observed, many civil servants have been 'noted for their sinewy persuasiveness or their mental gymnastics.' However, Paxman goes on to point out that even the best minds can achieve little without direction: few ministers, with the notable exception of Nye Bevan, have had the wisdom to make the most of their civil servants' talent2.
2Jeremy Paxman, The Political Animal (London: Penguin, 2002), p. 197.
This next passage is an example of an unacceptable use of the extract from Jeremy Paxman's book.
Few doubt the ability of Britain's senior civil servants, many of whom have been noted for their sinewy persuasiveness or their mental gymnastics. Indeed, one Cabinet Secretary, Burke Trend, was reputed to be able to draft the most complicated White Papers in his head. Unfortunately, few ministers, with the exception of Aneurin Bevan, the creator of Labour's most lasting monument, have been able to grasp that even clever minds need something to occupy them.
Much of the passage has been very closely paraphrased and there is no acknowledgement of the source. The author has attempted to pass the words of Jeremy Paxman off as his or her own. This is plagiarism.
Here is an extract from a book on sausages. Below it is a passage from a student's essay.
Sausages are more than an essential part of the 'English Breakfast': the 'great British banger' has become a cultural icon. Perhaps the most important factor in their continued popularity is that they are so versatile: sausages can be included in all styles of cooking, from the cheapest, most basic meals to lunches in Michelin starred restaurants. (John Brown 1999, p.23)
Sausages are one of Britain's favourite foods. Their immense popularity is due, at least in part, to their classlessness. As Brown (1999, p.23) has observed, sausages form part of the widest range of recipes, 'from the cheapest, most basic meals to lunches in Michelin starred restaurants.'This student is guilty of plagiarism.
Here's another passage.
To those who have never been fishing, the pursuit of fish using rod and line appears a relaxing and contemplative past time. However, many anglers know it to be an expensive, frustrating and often heartbreakingly disappointing addiction. Being an avid fisherman can often lead to the same strained relationships, compulsive behaviour and financial ruin as an addiction to gambling: investment in expensive fishing tackle provides similar returns to a bet on a horse at the longest odds. (Troutman 2001, p.45)
Although fishing appears to be a relaxing and contemplative past time, it is in fact expensive, frustrating and often heartbreaking. Fisherman have been known to display the same compulsive behaviour and suffer the same relationship problems as gambling addicts, and the odds on catching a really large fish are similar to the most rank outsider winning the Grand National.This student is guilty of plagiarism.