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Citing, referencing and reference management: Citing and referencing

Citing and referencing

This guide gives a brief introduction to citing and referencing. It also highlights useful tools which can help you manage references and save you time when formatting citations and creating bibliographies.

Please also check referencing requirements and guidance made available by your School. If you are not sure which citation style your School requires, check with your supervisor.

Why does citing and referencing matter?

When writing a piece of work, it is essential to give accurate references to all the sources you have used, so that:

  • readers will be able to find the originals easily
  • the breadth of your research will be evident
  • you will avoid the serious academic offence of plagiarism

How can I avoid plagiarism?

For tips on how to avoid plagiarism, check this brief video from QUB's Learning Development Service.

Cite Them Right Online

Cite them right online logoCite them right online is designed to help you reference print, electronic or performance sources accurately. The website has been developed from the book Cite them right: the essential referencing guide by Richard Pears and Graham Shields.

Further information

cite2write from the Learning Development Service at Queen's is an online tutorial on popular referencing styles including Harvard, Vancouver, MHRA and OSCOLA

Cite Source from Trinity College Library (Connecticut, USA) details more specific referencing styles by subject area

Instructions for Authors in the Health Sciences - The Mulford Health Science Library at the University of Toledo has gathered links to author pages for Health Science publications

OSCOLA (the Oxford Standard for Citation of Legal Authorities) has been adopted by the Law School at Queen's for legal referencing

Most journal publishers include an 'instructions to authors' guide on their web pages. These usually include some information on the referencing system they prefer:

Which referencing style should I use?

There are many different referencing styles to choose from, but two major styles are Harvard (or Author-Date System) and Vancouver (or Numeric System). These styles are outlined below.

Please note: individual Schools/Departments or journal publishers will often use a 'house-style' or variant of one of these systems. It is always advisable to check with your supervisor or editor about their preferred referencing style.

The easiest way to manage references is to use a reference management service that will automatically format citations and bibliographies for you. A number of available services are outlined in the next tab of this guide ("Reference management").

Harvard (Author-Date System)

In Harvard, the originator's name and year of publication of the cited document are given after each citation:

Predictability has been defined as the knowledge the person has about when and under what circumstances an event will occur (Miller, 1981).

References are arranged at the end of the text in alphabetical order, and also by year and letter, if necessary:

MILLER, S.M. (1981) Predictability and human stress: toward a clarification of evidence and theory. In: L. Berkowitz ed., Advances in Experimental Social Psychology, Vol. 14, Academic Press, New York, pp.203-255.

For more information on using Harvard, click here.

Vancouver (Numeric System)

In Vancouver, numerals are used in the text (usually in parentheses) to refer to cited documents:

Adhesion to dentin is often promoted by acid pre-treatment [1]. The maintenance of conformation is important for facilitating the penetration of bonding materials [2].

References are listed at the end of the text in numerical order:

  1. D.H. Pashley, B. Ciucchi, H. Sano and J.A. Horner, Permeability of dentin to adhesive agents. Quint Int 24 (1993), pp. 618 - 631.
  2. N. Nakabayashi, Dentin bonding mechanisms. Quint Int 22 (1991), pp. 73 - 74.

For more information on using Vancouver, click here.

Citing online resources

Citing books and print journal articles is usually straightforward. Citing electronic references can be trickier, but remember: the same basic style rules apply as when citing printed references. Click on the links in the Harvard and Vancouver boxes above for examples of references to electronic sources.

Quite often with electronic sources, basic elements of a reference may be missing (e.g. author, publication date). As guidance, the British Standard Information and documentation - Bibliographic reference - Part 2: Electronic documents or part thereof (BS ISO 690-2:1997) states that:

"Elements are required only if you have no reason to suspect that an article in an electronic version of a journal is different from the document itself or its accompanying material."

So, if you have no reason to suspect that an article in an electronic version of a journal is different from the printed version, then you can simply reference it as you would the printed version.