Referencing Guide

Citing and Referencing

Citing refers to showing in the body of your text the source of the data and information you’re using or have used in your work.

Referencing on the other hand entails providing a detailed list of all the sources you have used in your research.

Citing and referencing is a means of acknowledging another person’s ideas in your work and providing details of the location of that source.

  • References is a list of all the sources you have cited in your work. It captures all details required to locate the source.
  • Bibliography is a list of sources consulted used (whether cited or not)

Why you should cite:

  1. To make your work more credible and authentic- cite authoritative sources.
  2. To direct your reader to the source of your information you have used
  • For further reading
  • For verification
  1. To give credit to the author (s) whose work you are using in your paper- appreciate others’ efforts.
  2. To demonstrate how your work relates to others’ works- Give your work context in the research and academic realm.
  3. To avoid plagiarism
  4. To comment on, support or criticize one’s argument
  5. To distinguish your ideas from others’

NOTE: When you cite properly, you demonstrate that you are a responsible information user who have read and understood what others have discovered or think about your topic.

  • Referencing entails citation (within the body of your text) and reference list (or bibliography) – at the end of your paper. The in-text citation directs the readers to a full reference list entry.
  • What you should cite
    • All or pieces of work ‘borrowed’ from someone’s work: words and ideas, facts, images, videos, audio, statistics, diagrams, figures, tables, data etc.
  • What you should not cite
    • Common knowledge- information that an average, educated reader would accept as reliable without having to look it up.
    • These include
      • Information that most people knowg.
      • Information shared by a cultural or national groupg.
      • Knowledge shared by members of a certain fieldg.

You can cite in three ways:

1. Paraphrasing

  • Expressing a passage, portion or a section of someone’s work in your own words without altering its original meaning and context.
  • Usually shorter than the original passage
  • It is the recommended method of citation.
  • Examples

2. Quoting

  • Copying the information in verbatim (from word to word) and attributing it to the author.
  • A normal quote is less than 40 words.
  • When quoting:
    • add quotation marks around the words
    • incorporate the quote into the body of your text
    • capture full citation in the same sentence as the quotation
    • include the page number (or other locator information)
    • Examples
  • For a block quotation (40 and more words)
    • No quotation marks
    • Start a block quotation on a new line
    • indent the whole block 0.5 inches from the left margin
    • Double-space the entire block quotation
    • Do not add extra space before or after it
    • Examples
  • A quotation is preferred when:

i) Reproducing an exact definition e.g.

“An atom is the smallest part of a chemical element that can take part in a chemical reaction.” (Oxford Dictionary).

ii) An author has said something succinctly

(i.e., you can’t put it differently without losing its meaning)

iii) You want to respond to exact statement

iv) Stating a principle/theory e.g.

According to Behaviorism theory of Learning, “all behaviors are learned through interaction with the environment”.

3. Summarizing

 Citations styles differ significantly. The most commonly used citation styles are: APA, MLA, IEEE, Harvard, and Chicago.



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