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Frequently Asked Questions
The source I am using references someone else. How do I reference that?
This is called secondary referencing.
For example, you are reading an article published in 2014 by Caroline Anderson. In her article, Caroline talks about an interesting theory outlined and discussed in a different journal article, published in 2010 by Michael Scott, and she correctly cites and references Scott 2010.
You want to paraphrase that idea in your essay. Who do you reference, Anderson 2014 or Scott 2010?
You can only reference what you have read, and you do not have to track down the original reference. However, you must make sure you mention the originator of the idea as well.
Scott (cited in Anderson 2014) suggests that in order to have a better brew, you should put the milk in first, then the teabag, then the boiling water. I strongly disagree with that.
Scott's theory (cited in Anderson 2014 p.25) states that "the correct order for an optimal brew is milk, teabag, boiling water".
ANDERSON, C., 2014. The history of a good cuppa. T Journal, 54(2), pp. 24-28.
The reference list will only include the source you have read.
How do I reference different sources published by the same author, in the same year?
This happens quite often with websites, if you want to reference different pages from the same organisation which are published in the same year. Take for example these two pages from NHS Choices, published in 2017: Four cups of coffee not bad for health and Can fizzy water make you fat?
You must differentiate between the citations and reference list entries using letters to the right of the publication year.
To achieve this:
- arrange the items in your reference list alphabetically by title, as this will be the first element of alphabetical difference between them
- assign a letter to each year of publication, according to the order in your reference list
- assign the correct letters to the citations, in order to match the reference list. Please note this means that citation 'a' may not always appear first in your text.
Following a systematic review looking at the consumption of coffee in adults, it has been found that "400mg/day of caffeine is not associated with significant concern for cardiovascular mortality" (NHS Choices 2017b). A different study, looking at water consumption, suggests that there is a difference between how fizzy water and non-fizzy drinks can affect the body (NHS Choices 2017a).
NHS CHOICES, 2017a. Can fizzy water make you fat? [online]. London: NHS Choices. Available from: http://www.nhs.uk/news/2017/05May/Pages/Can-fizzy-water-make-you-fat.aspx [Accessed 23 May 2017].
NHS CHOICES, 2017b. Four cups of coffee 'not bad for health' suggests review. [online]. London: NHS Choices. Available from: http://www.nhs.uk/news/2017/04April/Pages/Four-cups-of-coffee-not-bad-for-health-suggests-review.aspx [Accessed 23 May 2017].
What if the same author published multiple sources in different years?
Where the same author has produced works in different years these works should be arranged in chronological order in the reference list, for example:
SCOTTISH GOVERNMENT, 2004. Report on...
SCOTTISH GOVERNMENT, 2005. Children and...
SCOTTISH GOVERNMENT, 2014. Advice on...
If two or more of these are from the same year, follow the guidance from the previous FAQ and add a, b, c, etc. to differentiate between the different entries, for example:
SCOTTISH GOVERNMENT, 2004. Report on...
SCOTTISH GOVERNMENT, 2005a. Children and...
SCOTTISH GOVERNMENT, 2005b. Juvenile justice...
SCOTTISH GOVERNMENT, 2014. Advice on...
How do I cite several authorities to support the same point?
You simply put the citations in one set of brackets.
- Citations appear in reverse chronological order (most recent first)
- If several works are published in the same year, then list those in alphabetical order
- Separate the citations with semi-colons
- Don't forget to include a full reference for each citation
This is the bit where I am paraphrasing a really cool idea which is going to make me sound very smart (Wilson 2012; Allen 2002; Green and White 2002; Brown, Jones and Smith 1998; Anderson et al. 1965).
Do I have to insert the URL for books and journal articles I read online?
No, if the book or journal article also exists on paper, you would reference the source as the paper version, regardless of whether you read it online.
The good news is almost all E-Books, or E-Journals will have been published in paper too. It doesn't matter whether you find the book via our Library catalogue, GoogleBooks or any other service. You should be able to find the necessary information to create a standard reference for the book/journal article.
But what if they only exist online?
There are very rare cases in which a book has only been published online. In these cases, reference like a webpage, something like this:
BROWN, C., 2013. My love affair with referencing. [online]. London: Little & Large. Available from: http://www.littlelarge.com/brown [Accessed 17 December 2016].
What if I can't find publication information for webpages?
I can't find the publisher...
In general, the organisation on whose website the web page sits will be the publisher. If this is not clear, look for ‘About Us’ or ‘Contact us’ information, or scroll to the bottom of the page and look for copyright information; you should see an organisation mentioned.
I can't find the place of publication...
The address of the organisation’s headquarters should be mentioned in ‘About us’, ‘Contact us’ or ‘Our Offices’. You can treat the town or city where the organisation is based as the place of publication.
If you still can't find it, you can omit mentioning the place of publication.
I can't find the year of publication...
On some pages, a date may be given at the top of the page. If no date is listed there, scroll down to the bottom of the web page and look for a copyright or ‘last updated’ date.
If you still cannot find a date, but the page you are looking at, and the rest of the website, seems to be continually updated and there are no indications that the page is older you can use the current year as your date.
If you are in any doubt, however, use n.d. (meaning no date) for the year.
How many references should I use?
We know this isn't what you want to hear, but we're afraid there's no exact answer to this question.
In some cases your lecturers will tell you specifically how many references they expect from you in a particular assignment. More often though, the number of references will be determined by the nature of the assignment and it will be down to yourself and what you have written and the sources you have consulted. If you are worried you have not used enough sources, and therefore do not have enough references, we would suggest you seek guidance from whoever is marking your assignment.
Can the Library help me with referencing?
Of course! We're a friendly bunch who are here to help, support, and give you all the right tools to get those references right!
What we can do for you
- If you're a beginner or would like a refresher, we organise Harvard Referencing classes throughout the academic year. Have a look at the timetable and sign up for a class when it suits you best.
- We can see you on a 1-1 basis during drop-in times. You don't need an appointment, just check when drop-ins are being held and stop by at a time that suits you!
- We can also help online! If you have a quick question or are struggling with a pesky reference, send us an email at firstname.lastname@example.org or call us on 01224 26 3450 (international dialling +44 1224 26 3450).
What we can't do for you
- Proofread your reference list: we will look over your reference list and provide guidance where we see re-occurring mistakes. We will also advise on particular items you are finding difficult to reference, but
- We won't check and correct your entire reference list. We'll tell you where you've gone wrong but it will be down to you to fix the errors.
What you can do
- Have a look through our online guide first and attempt to work it out by yourself. If you get stuck,
- Get in touch! Don't hesitate to contact us if you're confused about referencing. We don't want you to struggle in silence! :)