How is referencing a value added approach in the research study?

Referencing: An inseparable part of research study

What is Referencing?

Any academic writing is not complete until and unless its author consults various research works, articles, journals and websites of a number of writers and uses them to support his ideas and the arguments he seeks to discuss. Referencing allows the author to acknowledge the source materials that he has referred to in his works. Referencing is a significant part of any type of written work. It allows the author to make his discussions more elaborate. It also acts as a benchmark against which the author can estimate the quality and accuracy of his arguments and analysis. While sometimes, it helps the author to highlight the uniqueness of his work and to show how it is distinct from the works of other writers.

The important features and primary characteristics

Due to the fact that it enriches any academic essay like a research essay or a college essay or any type of thesis, referencing has become a very important tool for the academic essay writers. The most prominent attributes of referencing are as follows:

  • Referencing is a good means of presenting one’s range of knowledge and one’s acquaintance with various works.
  • Referencing requires a detailed account of the location of the quote or the paraphrase.
  • The quotations must be word for word, exact and to the point.
  • While paraphrasing the form and the words may be altered but the central idea should remain intact.
  • It is absolutely necessary that while referencing one should mention the name of the author, the year of publication and the page number from the original text.
  • One should under no circumstance fail to acknowledge the source; otherwise, it is regarded as plagiarism.
  • The reference should also be included in the bibliography or the reference list at the end of the paper, in an alphabetical order. This makes it easier for the readers to find the source of reference.
  • The references should be completely accurate so that any reader can find the original text easily.
  • Referencing can be used in almost any type of academic essay- history essays, science essays, business essays or even dissertations.
  • There are a number of referencing styles like the Harvard style, the APA style, the Chicago style, and etcetera.
  • There are no cast-iron rules when it is about referencing and references can be included anywhere within the text.
  • While referencing one should keep in mind the quality of the text one is referring to because the quality of an essay depends upon the standard of the texts the author is referring to.

Some examples

To make the whole process of referencing clear here are some examples of the popular referencing styles and their uses and formats.

  • Harvard style- It is an instance of author-date referencing. It is commonly used in humanities. It requires the inclusion of the author’s last name and the date of publication in brackets after the citation.

E.g. If any similar qualitative research is to be undertaken in the future, in that case strict controls have to be put in place to ensure such statistical anomalies do not occur through lack of procedural intransigence, principally through bribery of data inefficiently stored and processes. The full reference must then be included in the reference list or bibliography.

  • APA style- It is the regularized style used in Psychology. It is also used in other subjects, most importantly in the field of Social Sciences. The rules of this style are enumerated in the manual published by the American Psychological Society, known as the Publication Manual of the American Psychological Association.

E.g.  Schuller (2005) found in a study that young people and children before the age of three who were habituated to watching television more than five hours a day were in fact twice as likely to show evidences and signs of ADHD and ADD than those in their teen or adolescent years, a study that actually “places serious health burdens on the television industry” (26).

  • Chicago style- This particular style is used very extensively. This style permits footnote referencing and author-date referencing. What is interesting about this style is that it has to version- the note and bibliography style and the author-date style. The guidelines of this style are included in “The Chicago Manual of Style” published by The University of Chicago Press.

E.g. Michael Pollan, The Omnivore’s Dilemma: A Natural History of Four Meals (New York: Penguin, 2006), 99–100.

  • Notes and bibliography style- Pollan, Michael. The Omnivore’s Dilemma: A Natural History of Four Meals. New York: Penguin, 2006.
  • Author-date style- (Pollan 2006, 99–100)
  • Oxford style- It is also known as the documentary-note style and comprises of two parts- the footnote and the reference list. Like the Harvard style it also very common.


Footnote example- S. Ratnagar, Trading Encounters: From the Euphrates to the Indus in the Bronze Age, New Delhi, Oxford University Press, 2004, p. 23.

Reference List example- Ratnagar, S., Trading Encounters: From the Euphrates to the Indus in the Bronze Age, New Delhi, Oxford University Press, 2004.

Significance of Referencing

The importance of referencing in academics is undeniable and innumerable and therefore must be mentioned here.

  • Referencing helps the reader to know the origin of an idea and allows him to follow-up on that.
  • In a complex text where a number of ideas have been dealt with, referencing makes it easier for the reader to keep a track of the source of each idea. Thus making sure that the reader is not entangled in the web.
  • Referencing can be used by an author to prove an argument, to oppose an argument or to present an argument.
  • Referencing also allows one to present various viewpoints.
  • Referencing makes any academic text look more polished and scholarly and makes the work more credible.
  • Referencing is a way of acknowledging the influence of the works of various authors.
  • Referencing also makes sure that no one is accused of plagiarism.