Referencing correctly

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Referencing correctly


It is very important to reference all the sources you use when writing your essays at Queen Mary. It is important to do this so that you can demonstrate the body of knowledge on which your opinions are based. It will also enable those reading your work to access your sources, should they wish to do so, and it ensures no-one can accuse you of plagiarism (cheating by claiming someone else’s work as your own). Many students think that the process of referencing will be quite easy, but then later realise it can be more time-consuming and complicated than they thought. Why not test your knowledge by working through the short series of interactive exercises below?


  • to become familiar with the most widely used system of referencing
  • to discover how to reference websites and articles in periodicals correctly
  • to learn what some common Latin abbreviations mean when they are used in referencing

Activity 1: Using the Harvard system

Although the Harvard system is the most widely used, it is always a good idea to check with your department or lecturer which style of referencing they prefer. Some disciplines (Medicine for example) often prefer the Numeric (also called the Vancouver) system of referencing.

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Decide which of the following statements are true about the Harvard system of referencing and which are false:

1.) The Harvard system is different from the APA (American Psychological Association) system and the ‘Author-Date’ system.

2). You should use the cover of the book you are citing to as the source of your reference.

3). The following is the correct order for a reference of a book using the Harvard system:

Author, Date. Title. Edition. Publisher: Place.

Activity 2: What you should include in a reference

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Which elements should be included in a reference for a website? Can you think of four or five and write them in the text box below?

2). Imagine that on 5th May 2021, you visited the following website as a source of material for one of your essays: The title of the article was ‘Fighting Paperwork’. According to the website it was written in 2007 by Brian Briggs.

Write the reference in the correct style as you would write the list of references at the end of your essay.

3). The following list of references is in the wrong order. Can you put them in the correct order? Write your answers in the box below (you can cut and paste if you prefer).

Hills, D., 1998. Rational management: an end to confrontation. Public Service, Volume 2. Sept/Oct., pp. 60-67.
Williams, K., et al., 2006. Inside the Civil Service. Cambridge: CUP.
Hills, B., 2004. Budgets and Bureaucracy. Oxford: Clarendon Press.
Ramon, P., 1999. Cutting through the red tape. Public Service, Volume 1. May/June, pp. 18-23.
Hills, D., 2015. To the Top. New York: Serpent’s Tooth.
Cutler, J., 2016. Managing Cultures. 2nd ed. London: Swallow Press.

Activity 3: Latin abbreviations and referencing an article in a journal

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Choose the correct option from the drop down menu

1). Which of the following Latin abbreviations is used in a reference for more than three authors of a single work?

2). Sometimes it is not possible to identify the publisher of our source material. In such cases, we can inform the reader that the name is unknown by using one of the following abbreviations. Which one is correct?

3). Which of the following is the correct order to reference an article in a journal?

Would you like to review the main points?

© William Tweddle, Queen Mary University of London, 2010, photo used under the terms of an attributive CC license: courtesy of gudmd.harald