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Referencing styles

There are many styles of referencing; the two most common systems are author and date (e.g. Harvard) and numeric (e.g.Vancouver). Styles differ across the University. Please follow the referencing guidelines provided by your Schools or Departments.

Author and date system (e.g. Harvard)

In the text use the surname(s) of the author(s) and the year of publication.

References should then be listed alphabetically by author at the end of the work, with the year of publication placed immediately after the author's name.

  • When referencing more than one work by the same author you can distinguish between them by adding letters after the year e.g. (Turner, 1998a) and (Turner, 1998b)
  • When quoting directly from a work enclose the text in quotation marks. You must include the page number(s) of the quotation, e.g. Deeper learning can be developed by "a reflective, active, self-evaluating approach" (Cottrell, 2019, p.1).

Only use direct quotations when necessary. It is usually preferable to re-word (paraphrase) information.

Example of author and date referencing (e.g. Harvard)

A typical piece of text might read:

A student should ask whether another person, reading their work, could find the sources again (Cottrell, 2008). Particularly as different styles of referencing look similar to one another (Hancock, 2019), referencing itself can be a complex skill rather than a natural process (Gravett & Kinchin, 2020).

The reference list would arrange references in alphabetical order by author, e.g.

  • Cottrell, S. (2008) The study skills handbook, 3rd ed., Basingstoke, Palgrave Macmillan
  • Gravett, K. and Kinchin, I.M. (2020) Referencing and empowerment: exploring barriers to agency in higher education student experience. Teaching in Higher Education, 25:1, pp.84-97
  • Hancock, J. (2019) The study book: essential skills for academic success. London: John Murray Learning

Notice that when using the Harvard system, the year of publication is positioned after the author names.

Numeric system (e.g. Vancouver)

In the numeric system of referencing, numbers inserted in the text refer to a numerical sequence of references at the end. The first reference is numbered 1, the second 2, and so on.  The numbers can be written in superscript or in brackets

  • When quoting directly from a work enclose the text in quotation marks. You must include the page number(s) of the quotation, e.g.  Deeper learning can be developed by "a reflective, active, self-evaluating approach" (Cottrell, 2019, p.1).

Only use direct quotations when necessary. It is usually preferable to re-word (paraphrase) information.

Example of numeric referencing (e.g. Vancouver)

A typical piece of text might read:

A student should ask whether another person, reading their work, could find the sources again1. Particularly as different styles of referencing look similar to one another2, referencing itself can be a complex skill rather than a natural process3.

The reference list would give each reference in numerical order:

  1. Cottrell, S. The study skills handbook, 3rd ed., Basingstoke, Palgrave Macmillan, 2008
  2. Hancock, J. The study book: essential skills for academic success. London: John Murray Learning, 2019
  3. Gravett, K. and Kinchin, I.M. Referencing and empowerment: exploring barriers to agency in higher education student experience. Teaching in Higher Education, 2020, 25:1, pp.84-97

Notice that when using the numeric system, the year of publication is positioned at the end of the reference for books and before the volume, part/ issue and page numbers for journals.

Further guidance

Please ensure you check the referencing guidelines provided by your Schools and Departments to ensure you are following the preferred style.

Reference styles do differ. In the examples above:

  • The first letter of author surnames and initials have been capitalised only.  Sometimes, author names are entirely in capitals.
  • Works with multiple authors have all been listed with surnames first, followed by their initials (e.g. Gravett, K. and Kinchin, I.M.). You may sometimes see the first author listed by surname first, followed by their initials, then subsequent authors listed by initials first, followed by surname.
  • The title of each reference has been italicised. Titles can also appear in bold type.
Student with a laptop

 

Further reading

More help with referencing

Reading and interpreting sources and data

Writing

People who can help

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