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Research Skills Guides: Referencing


This guide provides introductory information about bibliographic referencing and schemes

Referencing: the Basics

Why reference?

References are intended to allow readers, including your examiners, to check your sources and learn more from them. They are needed for all direct or indirect quotations for discussions of another writer’s work to avoid plagiarism, and to point readers to further reading. They are not necessary for common facts which can be learned from any number of sources.

What to reference?

Everything you cite requires a corresponding reference. This includes: books, book chapters, journal articles, manuscripts and newspaper articles but also personal correspondence, audio-visual material, social media, websites, video games etc.

The Main Referencing Styles

There are various style guides explaining how to present your references. Note that the scheme you use will probably be prescribed by your university department or publisher.

The main schemes use either an author-date system within the text, or footnotes. Both kinds of scheme will require a bibliography at the end of your essay.

Author:Date Referencing Schemes include:

Footnote Referencing Schemes include:

MHRA (Modern Humanities Research Association)

MLA (Modern Languages Association) - There are several openly accessible guides, e.g. this guide from Mendeley. The MLA does not have its own online guide

Whichever scheme you use, ensure you are consistent

Printed Guides to Referencing Held at Senate House Library

Senate House Library has a number of printed guides to reference schemes, which are located within the Book Studies collection on the 4th floor of the library, at the shelfmark 029.6. Style guides and bibliographic referencing guides are listed under this number followed by the name of the scheme in square brackets, for example:

029.6 [Chicago] The Chicago manual of style 

029.6 [MLA] MLA handbook for writers of research papers 

029.6 [Modern] MHRA style guide: a handbook for authors, editors and writers of theses

Referencing Examples

This box shows how a particular journal article would look in a bibliography in each of the above styles. 

APA: Safer, M. A., & Tang, R. (2009). The Psychology of Referencing in Psychology Journal Articles. Perspectives on Psychological Science, 4(1), 51–53.

Chicago: Safer, Martin A., and Rong Tang. 2009. “The Psychology of Referencing in Psychology Journal Articles.” Perspectives on Psychological Science 4 (1): 51–53. doi:10.1111/j.1745-6924.2009.01104.x.

Harvard: Safer, M. A. and Tang, R. (2009) ‘The Psychology of Referencing in Psychology Journal Articles’, Perspectives on Psychological Science, 4(1), pp. 51–53. doi: 10.1111/j.1745-6924.2009.01104.x.

MHRA: Safer, Martin A., and Rong Tang. ‘The Psychology of Referencing in Psychology Journal Articles', Perspectives on Psychological Science, 4(1), 51-3.

MLA: Safer, Martin A., and Rong Tang. “The Psychology of Referencing in Psychology Journal Articles.” Perspectives on Psychological Science, vol. 4, no. 1, Jan. 2009, pp. 51–53. EBSCOhost, doi:10.1111/j.1745-6924.2009.01104.x.

Reference Manager Tools

Reference Manager Tools

You need not compile or format your references manually. A range of online reference manager tools are available to assist you with your referencing and the creation of bibliographies. These tools assist you to collect, organise, and cite your research resources and references.

Some of these tools, such as Endnote and RefWorks, require a subscription (check if your university has a subscription). Others, such as Mendeley and Zotero (via Firefox), are free to download.

Exporting References From Senate House Library's Online Resources

Exporting References from Library Electronic Resources

Many online library catalogues and electronic resources allow you to export your search results either to a reference manager tool or in the format of a particular referencing scheme.

For example:

1) via Senate House Library's online catalogue, you can export your search results to either EndNote or RefWorks by clicking on the quotation mark icons to the right of each search result, under Additional Actions - see image below:

2) via databases (online/electronic resources) look for an option allowing you to cite or export. The image below shows you an example from JSTOR. Clicking on the tab to 'Cite this item' presents options to export your results via numerous referencing tools and also in either MLA, Chicago, or APA styles. Most databases will have a similar option.