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Reference Styles: A Brief Introduction

Reference Styles: A Brief Introduction

Writing an academic essay is a challenging task. Even after you have framed the entire document, there are a lot of risks to be taken care of. While writing research essay or a college essay, a large amount of information and evidence is included. This might lead to copyright infringement, which is called plagiarism. To avoid it, the names of quoted authors are mentioned as ‘references’. There are various styles of referencing which can be broadly divided into three categories: Documentary Note Style, Parenthetical Style and Numbered Style.

Documentary Note Style

In this referential system, the references are given in form of footnotes at the bottom of every page. Notes are indicated by a digit placed after the full stop ending the sentence to which the reference belongs. This is called the ‘note identifier’ and is usually a superscript. These then point to the footnote, which is written by putting the same number followed by the citation of the given source. At the end of the text, a list of all references is produced in the alphabetical order, called Bibliography. This style can be further divided into three categories, separated by subtle differences.

  • Oxford Style: In the Oxford style of referencing, the name of the author is written first. The first name is written as initials while the surname is written in full form. This is followed by the title of the cited work, with minimum capitalization of the words. Then comes volume number or page number. This is followed by the location of publication and year of publication.
  • MHRA Style: The MHRA style is similar to the Oxford style, but has one different feature. In the footnotes, the name of the editor of collection of articles appears after the title of the book followed by abbreviation ‘ed.’ (single editor) or ‘eds’ (multiple editors). However, in the bibliography, the name appears before the title of work.
  • Chicago Humanities Style: As the name suggests, this style is widely used in the field of humanities. This is slightly different from the other two. The name of the authors appears as given in the title of the work, be it full name or initials. The title of the work is capitalized in sentence style, that is, only the first word and proper nouns are capitalized. This is followed by date, in the order month, day, year, with the month spelled out. The subsequent lines bear an indent of 1/2 inch.

Parenthetical Style

This style is also known as the Author-Date Style and it is used widely in the field of science. It is characterized by in-text references. The citations are noted down within parentheses before the full stop ending the sentence, which bears the reference. This provides the reader with immediate information, without the need to look for footnotes or end-notes. In addition, at the end of the entire text, a list containing all the works cited is produced in the alphabetical order of the author name.

  • APA Style: This style was developed by the American Psychological Association and is used for research papers. In this style, the author’s name is cited first, with first and middle name in initials and surname in full form. This is followed by the title of the work with only the first word capitalized. This is followed by the publication date in the order of year, month, day.
  • Chicago Author-Date Style: In this style, the name of the author appears as given in the title page. This can be initialized or spelled out. Then follows the title name, with sentence like capitalization. Then the date is given in the order month, day, year. The month is completely spelled out. The subsequent lines are indented by 1/2 inch.
  • Harvard Style: This style is one of the most popular referential styles. The name comes first, with the first name initialized. In case of multiple authors, the names appear with last name followed by first initials separated by commas. The title comes next, with sentence style capitalization. This is followed by the date in the order of day, month, year with no punctuation.
  • MLA Style: This style was put forward by the Modern Language Association. The name of the author comes first, written as in the title page. In case of multiple authors, for the first author, last name comes first. For the rest, the normal rule is followed. It is preceded by ‘Ed.’ in case of editor or compiler. Then the title follows, with capitalization of first, last and principal words. Date is then mentioned in the day, month, year format. For month, the 3-4 abbreviation is used. All citations are double-spaced.

Numbered Style

In this style, citations are indicated with Arabic numbers within square brackets, which are usually in superscript. The references are then listed in a numbered reference list after the text. References are numbered in the order in which they first appear in the text. Same numbers are used to indicate references to the same author.

  • Vancouver Style: This is a popular form of the numbered style. The name of the author comes first, with initials for first and middle names. Then comes the title with capitalization of first word, proper nouns and abbreviations, which are generally capitalized. The date is then mentioned in the year, month, day format. For the month, the 3-letter abbreviation is used.
  • AMA Style: This style was introduced by the American Medical Association and is used for all medical research papers and journals. It follows the same format as Vancouver for name of author and title of work. However, the date is written differently. The month, day, year format is followed and the month is spelled out.
  • IEEE Style: Given by the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers, it is followed in the field of technology. The author’s name is mentioned by giving the first name before the surname. Then the title of the article is mentioned in quotation marks. The title of the book or journal is given in Italics. This is followed by the year of publication.

This introduction to the basic features of referential styles should be enough to help an academic essay writer differentiate between them. One should inquire the respective institution regarding the accepted referential style before starting the work. It is also necessary to stick to a single style throughout the essay; styles should not be mixed up. With these tips, one will successfully escape charges of plagiarism.

What does referencing stand for in the academic work and what is its role and importance in the academic sector?

What is referencing? What does it include?

Any academic work, be it a general essay writing for senior school or custom term paper writing for college or even research papers for scholars, requires proper writing style and content along with correct and accurate referencing that would, no doubt, add substantial volume and depth to the paper of the academic writer. This referencing which is quite common in such writings is actually an acknowledgement of the contribution of the various authors and researchers or books, reports, papers and several other published or unpublished study materials that you have directly or indirectly used or taken help of while writing your research or thesis paper or likewise. Again, this referencing does not only depend upon a particular quotation or citation. Any borrowed idea, concept, picture or even a single terminology comes under referencing. A proper referencing in an academic work usually appears twice – once, as footnotes to where the citations and references are made and then again at the end of the research essay paper in a bibliography or reference list with complete details of the sources.

How does referencing help? Why does one need referencing in an academic work?

Since referencing, in a way, shows the academic writer’s acknowledging spirit and respect for the intellectual property rights of the scholar and his sincerity towards the subject as a whole, it increases the writer’s prestige among his or her colleagues and creates a rather good impression of him in the academic world. Moreover, it reflects the present writer’s thorough research in such related topics as his own and his vast knowledge, since to cite or to give reference in a research essay means a proper insight and considerable command over that topic or source. Therefore, reference also provides your research essay or paper a firm grounding and act as evidences of its credibility, reliability and even authenticity. Your references are basically serve the purpose of supporting your assertions and inferences and are incorporated into paper in order to strengthen your points and your observations. Thus, the stronger and better built your references are, the more credits and applauds go to your research paper. These things, in fact, also make an academic work persuasive for both the general and the academic readers. Again, proper referencing means to be well acquainted with the works and writings of other related or likewise authors and academic writers and to give due and full credits to their assertions.

What is the importance of correct referencing in any academic writing? Its significance…

Correct referencing is a vital aspect of referencing in any academic work. Be it any general custom term paper writing or some scholarly essay paper writing, a referencing can make or break your entire work in seconds. While, on the one hand, a good and correct essay demonstrates to all the writer’s profound understanding, comprehension and intense familiarity with the subject or topic, on the other, a false, inaccurate or improper reference might demean his or her esteem in the eyes of other academic writers and researchers and thus might become a cause of perpetual embarrassment for the academician. Most importantly, it might nullify the entire hard work and sincere labor and effort put by the academic writer and thus the entire research or term paper work might even get rejected. Added to this is the scope of the charges of plagiarism against the academic writer if he or she is not careful enough to mention all the references with proper precision. This might then lead to legal problems and court cases, which might ruin the writer’s reputation. Generally, a research paper is thus written with the help of a professional research paper or term paper writer available through various websites.

What are the various information sources that require reference?

In many situations and cases, it has been seen that students and scholars are confused regarding exactly what and how much to be used as referencing. A general idea that words, sentences or quotations taken from any books or any such literary sources, however, might get the academic writers in neck deep trouble for, as mentioned earlier, any idea, image or information taken from any source needs to be mentioned as a reference. The following are the general sources where a reference is needed:

  • In case of any kind of pamphlets or brochures issued by any organization
  • Newspapers, magazines, leaflets, articles etc
  • Journals, books and other research papers or materials
  • Films, tele-films, documentaries, television programs, promotional or advertisements
  • Any personal or group interview
  • Websites or any such online sources or discussion forums
  • Letters, Documents, emails or any such group sessions
  • Any image, diagram, picture, illustration or chart
  • Any group lecture, tutorials, seminars or meetings under any particular organization

What are the information sources that need no reference?

However, there are certain sources that need not be mentioned in references or citations. They are generally accepted as common information and have no copyrights as such. Those sources include the following:

  • Any personal experience or source
  • Any personal observation, inference or experiment result
  • Any common knowledge
  • Any kind of personal thought, analysis, evaluation, comments or belief
  • Any universally accepted belief, fact, information or observation based on any given discipline or stream
  • Any traditionally accepted folklore or customs

Citation – a form of reference. What is it?

In the process of writing an academic work, every time while making a reference of any information or any such thing in it, the footnotes that are added instantly on that very page are normally referred to as citations. These citations are not always necessary but are made on some specific cases. These particular cases include the following:

  • Paraphrase/s from some other author’s writings or analysis
  • Any direct quote
  • Any direct or indirect reference to some other author’s or artist’s work or ideas
  • Any discussion or analysis by some other personality