Study Tips: Academic Referencing

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We’ve mentioned before in previous articles about the perils of plagiarism, that terrible crime in academia where an individual copies the work of other people without properly giving credit for its source.  However it’s important to note that the problem with plagiarism isn’t the copying of ideas – indeed the entire scholastic tradition is built upon understanding the works of others and building on them.  What is important is understanding that it is this non-crediting of ideas that causes problems.

Copying of the ideas, statistics and results discovered by others is permitted in your distance learning academic work so long as you give the appropriate credit to the original source.  This is called referencing, the act of providing a referral in your work by which the original source can be verified.  Referencing serves three main purposes:

  1.  It allows you to draw upon the discoveries of others in making and shaping your own academic argument
  2.  It ensures that the ideas and work that other people have made is correctly and fairly recognized.
  3.  It allows the reader of your work to find where you got your information from, should they wish to read further.

Referencing Styles

By the turn of the 1900’s, most major Academic institutions and publishers had some form of in-house referencing style.  However, these varied from place to place and rarely followed any sort of regular pattern.  Fast forwarding to us in the 21st century and there are now a few dominant referencing styles in use.  Some of these include:

The Harvard Style

Originating in the late 19th century, the Harvard Style of referencing, also known as parenthetical referencing, was introduced by academics at Harvard University, originally in the field of biology, but later expanding its role.  It is one of the most common forms today.  

The Chicago Style

Chicago style referencing is part of the Chicago Manual of Style, a style guide for American English that originated from the University of Chicago in the mid 1900’s.  It is frequently used more in art and literature focussed institutions.

The Vancouver Style

The Vancouver style is a relatively recent style, not having been in existence until 1978.  Originally developed by a conference of international medical journal writers and editors, it was intended to serve the needs of authors of medical works. 

Online Course Academic Writing UKWhich Referencing Style To Use For Your Online Course

The choice of style you should use when preparing work for your online study course should generally be determined by the style requested by your course provider.  In ADL’s case, we use the Harvard system of referencing. 

An explanation of how to use this system of referencing is included in our Academic Writing course, which is available free as a complimentary course for all students taking any other course, or as its own separate module.  

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