5 Things to avoid when referencing -Find out what you are doing wrong

Citation and referencing are important aspects of academic writing. Whether you are writing a class assignment, a term paper, a research report, a summary of textbook and other literal documents, your research proposal, your research project, thesis and dissertation, whichever the case may be, so long as you would have made use of other people’s ideas, citation ad referencing must be involved.

For the purpose of clarity, citation in its noblest sense is the attribution of an idea expressed in a scholarly work to a researcher, or groups of researchers. This is often done by stating the name of the author (s) and the year of publication either after, or before the beginning of the borrowed idea or ideas. When reading a scholarly article you could see statements as Njoku (2021), stated that, or …. God loved man greatly, and thus he has charged humanity to extend the meritless love he has shown us to our fellow humans (Stanly, 2021). Whichever approach the writer chooses, the author’s name and year of publication highlighted in the above-mentioned scenarios is what we call citation.

Referencing on the other hand is a collection of all the citations which can be found in a given scholarly article or work. There are so many referencing styles, peculiar to a different discipline. These styles are updated periodically thus giving rise to editions. The MLA referencing style is widely used by those in the Arts and literal studies, the APA, which presumably is the most popular and is used by those in the Social Sciences, Education among others. We still have the HARVARD referencing style used by those in Business management, the CHICAGO referencing style and the OSCOLA used by law students and the list goes on and on.

Remember, that citation and referencing is important aspects of every scholarly work. In the grading of school assignments, term papers, even your thesis/dissertations marks are allocated and awarded for referencing. Although there are many aspects of your work that is judged and accorded mark, all other aspects may be a little more difficult for you to meet the desired criteria, however, the referencing section is a lot straighter forward and presents you a good avenue to amess marks for yourself. Hence, it is important that you pay attention to your reference, there are things you could do in your referencing that could make you lose all the marks you could have possibly gotten from the evaluation teams/panel.

So, to avoid blowing your chances, you need to observe the following;

  1. Try to know the referencing format approved by your department: as insignificant as it may seem, failure to do this could set you off on the wrong foot. Each department/discipline and even institutions have an approved reference format that all students are expected to adopt in their scholarly works or even class assignments. Not using this approved format and style is already an indication of failure. Let us take an example. Imagine a scenario where the department approved format is APA, and the student due to ignorance and all other undisclosed reasons went ahead to use Harvard referencing style in the completion of his/her work (citation inclusive). Automatically, the work even though all other parts are good, yet, the work will be rejected on the basis of the wrong citation and referencing. In an event when such a student is given a second chance to mend the work, the student would have to revisit the entire work, however, in the absence of a second chance, the student may be graded poorly.
  2. Know the difference between the various referencing styles this will help you to know when you are deviating or mixing up different referencing styles/formats.
  3. Understand the differences among the various editions of the departmental approved referencing styles and also know the current edition in use in your department: periodically the various referencing styles and formats available today undergo updating. This updating could come in form of an addition to what is already there, modification of what was there, or removal of some aspects of what was formally accepted as the case may be. Whichever the case may be, the department/school research team will update the people on which direction they have chosen, if they are sticking to the previous editions or the new edition. Whichever, direction that the department/school decides to take, it is your responsibility as a student to align. By aligning you should seek information on the current development and study the changes. Most at times, the changes may not be so significant, that students due to lack of diligence may not take due notice, and thus, end up mixing up different editions in one work, this is definitely not good for the quality of your work as well as your grades.

Now that you have known these things; here are 5 Things to avoid when referencing -Find out what you are doing wrong. Citation and referencing are important aspects of academic writing. Whether you are writing a class assignment, a term paper, a research report, a summary of textbook and other literal documents, your research proposal, your research project, thesis and dissertation, whichever the case may be, so long as you would have made use of other people’s ideas, citation ad referencing must be involved.

not expected to do in the referencing of your work, because they are unethical, unprofessional and against the morals of academic writings:

  1. Avoid manufacturing citations/referencing: imagine that you have come across this beautiful idea, you copied it and pasted it in your work, but forgot to get the full details of the owner of that idea from where you have copied it. After completing your work and you couldn’t place your hands on where you got the citation from, you then go ahead to get another authors full citation, remove the original name, and then replace it with the name of the author who owns the idea you have borrowed, that’s fraudulent and misleading, hence, you should never do that because chances are that you might get caught and made to face disciplinary actions. To avoid finding yourself in this situation, always have a word document open where you can index the full references of all the citations in your work.
  2. Avoid adding the references of authors that were not originally cited in the body of the work: this happens when you have finished your work and have made a list of your references, and it appears not to be sufficient, some students fall for the temptation of uplifting references from other works and adding them to their reference list just to increase the volume, without even minding that none of those newly added references was cited in the body of the work. It is highly, unethical to do so, and hence, you should avoid it. In an event where you are required to cite a given number of authors in your work, the best thing to do here would be to cite multiple authors together, so long as they share similar ideas and findings. More than two authors could have a similar opinion on a given subject, you can go ahead to state the idea and then cite all of them. For example, authors A, B, C, and D, in their study could submit that poverty, is a major determinate of early marriage and hostility in Nigeria, what you then do is to paraphrase and state the idea and then cite all the authors using coma to separate them and using “and” or “an ampersand (&)” to connect them.
  3. Resist the temptation of falsifying the author’s year of publication: in academic writing, we are often advised not to cite works that are too old, especially those that are dated from beyond ten years ago. In fact, when you are writing work for publication, the publishing platform may tell you to include only studies that are five years old, some three years, and some seven and so on. I understand that one could come across a very interesting idea that needs to be captured in your work, and unfortunately, the idea was expressed in a work that was written fifteen years ago, in such an event, most students just fall for the temptation for falsifying the year of publication, and updating it to look like a current work. As soothing as this act may seem, the place does not fall for it because chances are that you could get caught. Imagine having a 2021 citation of an author who already died in 1992 in your work. In an event where the reviewers or panel of evaluators are familiar with the timespan of the life and death of such an author, automatically you have been caught in the act and could most definitely attract some punishment for you.
  4. Do not cite non-existent authors.
  5. Avoid using the wrong referencing style/format or mixing up two or more editions of a given referencing style/format in your work.

Observe all the does and don’ts and you will see yourself cite and reference like a professional that you are, or that you intend to become. We hope you have learnt a thing or thing from this article, we are always here to provide you with valid and useful information to help you to succeed in your academic journey.


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