The Importance of Reference and Cite

3 March 2017

In the United Kingdom, referencing plays a very important part of higher education. Students are not judged on their own ideas but on the quality of their research, reading, and the ability to establish a discussion to answer a specific question. If they use someone else’s idea in their assignment (by using their own words or making a quotation), they must cite and reference the source. Foreign students who come studying in Britain may be surprised by this working method. The importance of citation and referencing in all academic submission will be discussed in the first part of this essay.

Then, the essential characteristics of the Harvard system of referencing will be described. The main reason for referencing is to avoid plagiarism. Northedge (2005) defines plagiarism as the act of using somebody else’s words as your own, without acknowledgement. Indeed, in the academic environment, if students do not give credit to the original source while they reformulate the idea of ?? another person, it is seen as a form of cheating.

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Referencing is anchored in the culture of the United Kingdom: it is as important in an academic as in a social or a political context.

Hampden, Turner and Trompenaars (2000), cited by Neville (2010) demonstrate that in individualistic cultures (such as Britain), copyrights are more respected than in countries characterized by collectivism. Ideas and words, as Bailey (2011, p25) explains, are seen as a “private property belonging to the person who first wrote them”. In other words, cite and reference the work of a person is a form of acknowledgement and respect for his work. Citations and referencing are not used merely to avoid plagiarism. They also guarantee the authority of an argument (Neville 2010).

When referencing is correctly done, it proves to the reader that the student has read widely on a topic and is knowledgeable about it. Moreover, referencing allows readers to develop their own knowledge. Indeed, they can easily refer to the reference list to find a source or argument that they want to know more about (Redman 2001; Neville 2010). On the other hand, Dee, Bell and Peacock (2010) assert that references are useful to support arguments you want to make. Personal opinions are not expected in assignments; they have no credibility. In fact, the discussion s based on what the student identify as important in what her sources have written about the issue. Moreover, Neville (2010), Creme and Lea (2008) all argue that only the person who write the assignment decide which direction, perspective to take (the ideas presented, the conclusion reached, etc). For example, with the same subject, two essays can be totally different because the students have completely different views and do not develop the same arguments. In other words, the student’s own point of view emerges in the course of her essay.

The University of Bristol (undated) consider that most writers and students employ the Harvard system, which is one of the most popular systems of referencing currently used in the United Kingdom and America. In this system, a distinction must be made between citation and referencing. Citations are used within the text, every time that someone else’s idea or work is mentioned (this applies for paraphrases, summaries or quotations). In the Harvard system, the author’s surname and the year of publication are given, in brackets, in the main body of the written assignment. Redman 2001; Dee Bell and Peacock 2010). In every paragraph (except in the introduction and the conclusion), one citation at least should appear. Cruden (2011) considers that there are two main ways to cite: “author prominent” (the student starts his sentence with a citation) and “information prominent” (the citation is at the end of the sentence). However, the “author prominent” is more effective because the writer is more involved in the text, which makes the argument more persuasive. Referencing is given in a reference list, at the end of the assignment.

This list contains full details of all the sources cited and it’s organized alphabetically by author. In the Harvard system, after the author’s surname and initial, references include the date of the publication, the title (in italic), details of the place of publication and publisher. (Redman 2001; Dee, Bell and Peacock 2010). In addition, the page numbers also need to be recorded if the student is quoting from a specific chapter or in a journal article. Electronic references follow similar principle but must also include the date of access. Creme and Lea (2008) assert that all the references in the list must have the same format.

However, oral presentations have different approaches to the expression of citation. References to the literature must of course be made and cited during the presentation. These references should also appear at the end of the presentation (last slide) respecting the Harvard system (Cruden 2011). In the British culture, unattributed productions, whether written or oral, rarely have their place. Citations are mainly useful to supports personal ideas and to transmit knowledge. If students do not recognize the sources, they steal the person who writes it.

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