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How To Improve Your Referencing Skills

When it comes to writing an essay, most students find referencing quite tricky. Indeed, they are commonly trying to remember where different sources come from, as well as the name of the books and journal articles.

But why is referencing so important?

Referencing is vital, as you always need to acknowledge the work of other authors whose statements and ideas are being used by learners to create their academic papers. Whether they are using just a quote or a whole idea, learners have to reference the source to avoid plagiarism. In addition, referencing shows readers and, above all lecturers, that students have done in-depth research into the topic. Also, references can be a great source of ideas for the learners’ arguments.

How could students make this process easier?

Firstly, students should check their university style guide as every institution around the world has its own variation on the referencing methodologies. These differences between a university and another are usually small and look at the position of commas or the type of bracket used. Therefore, it could be useful for students to print the whole style guide and store it somewhere safe as they can access it when needed.

Secondly, it is fundamental that students keep consistency. A long list of references at the end of an academic paper can look busy and very confusing to read. Therefore, learners should adopt a clear and consistent format. This will ease their referencing process, as well as the lecturers marking process.

Thirdly, learners should focus on the quality of the sources, not on the quantity. Having a long list of sources in the reference part of an essay does not necessarily mean that the work includes quality research. As in everything, quality is more important than quantity. Therefore, it is vital to choose those references which are relevant to the document.

Fourthly, referencing is not a process which is applied only to books and journals. Additionally,  students should reference all the sources they use, including videos, print and online articles, live performances, images, text messages and films.

Not to mention,  it always proves easier for students to write their references as they are working on the essays. In this way, they will not have to remember all the sources that they have used. Additionally, they could find it useful to use a citation tool which would help them to organise and write their references.

Finally, it is fundamental to double check everything that has been referenced, especially if learners are using a citation tool. Having a misspelt name or typing a wrong date will cause problems in the references and the marks you receive.

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