University of Hull Referencing

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University of Hull Referencing

University of Hull Referencing

What is referencing and how do you do it?

 What is referencing?

Referencing is acknowledging the sources of information (originated by another person) that you have used to help you write your essay, report or other piece of work.

In your work, you should use the existing knowledge of others to back up and provide evidence for your arguments. This makes your arguments stronger and gives them true academic value. The sources of information you use may include books, journal articles, newspapers, government publications, organisational reports, websites, videos, computer programs and so on.

 When must you use a reference in your work?

You MUST use a reference whenever you:

  • Quote directly from a source.
  • Paraphrase (put into your own words) someone else’s ideas. This is often a better alternative to using a direct quotation.
  • Use statistics or other pieces of specific information which are drawn from a source you have read, viewed or heard.
  • Use photographs, diagrams, illustrations or charts that you have not designed and created yourself.

 Avoiding plagiarism

If you do not use a reference in the circumstances above or follow the conventions of referencing your work, you run the risk of committing the serious academic offence of plagiarism. Plagiarism is taking the work of others and passing it off as your own work (even unintentionally). This may ultimately result in failure or expulsion from the University. Don’t panic though, it is easy to avoid if you follow the basic rules.

 How do you reference?

You reference using a referencing system.  This is a set of guidelines to show you what information is needed in a reference and how you should format it, both within your text and in your reference list at the end of the document. There are two common types of referencing system:

  1. Author-Date (e.g. Harvard, APA): Author surnames and date of publication are given in the text and an alphabetical reference list/bibliography is given at the end.
  2. Footnote-Bibliography (Chicago, OSCOLA): A superscript number in the text refers to footnotes found at the bottom of each page and an alphabetised reference list/bibliography is given at the end.

Your department will advise you on the appropriate style to use.

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 Golden rules

Whichever referencing system you use, there are some general golden rules which should be followed:

  • Be consistent – use only the guidelines provided and stick to them for all your work.
  • Follow the detail in your guidelines absolutely; for example, for punctuation, capitals and italics. If you do this inconsistently, you may lose marks. Referencing is all about attention to detail.
  • If the source of information you are referencing does not fit any of the examples in the guidelines, include enough information for your reader to find and check that source, in a format as near to the appropriate example as possible.

 Other resources

Indiana University plagiarism quiz – A short online quiz to help you understand what constitutes plagiarism.

 Related books and eBooks available in our university libraries

References and Referees

It is common for application forms to ask for the contact details of two referees, and for you to include these on a CV – unless you write ‘References available on request,’ in which case you can expect to be contacted for this information by phone or e-mail. Generally, references are taken up towards the end of the selection process, when there are fewer candidates, but this is not always the case.

What is a referee?

  • A referee in this context is someone who is willing to be contacted and provide information about your personal qualities, performance and suitability for a post or course. A reference is the name given to the response they give, when contacted.
  • Referees are contacted by the employer or university selector to provide a reference for you. They may ask a referee to respond to particular questions, such as level of absence and level of performance. Do not expect that a printed reference you have been given by a previous employer or university will be an acceptable substitute. It is not the selector’s responsibility to check the validity of such a document, and it may not provide the answers to the questions they wish to ask.
  • Usual practice is to supply contact details of two people, one an academic referee, the other an employment or personal one. Clearly it is important for this part of your application to be as positive as the rest of it, so think carefully about whose details you will provide.

Whom should I nominate as a referee?

  • Think carefully about whom you nominate. Normally your academic referee will be your supervisor in the department, but it may be that another member of staff knows you better through teaching etc. or you might use the Head of your Department. Choose someone who is likely to be positive about you.
  • Academic referees are usually expected by prospective employers to comment on intellectual abilities and academic attainments or likely class of degree, if you have not yet graduated, and if the post asks for a specific class of degree.
  • With regards to a second referee, the manager or supervisor from a previous employer or volunteering experience is useful, particularly if they have known you for some time, or if the experience is of particular relevance to the area of work to which you are applying.
  • Personal referees are least favoured by employers. You might ask a former teacher with whom you have maintained contact, or other University Staff e.g. wardens who have seen you in a different environment from the academic one. They may be family friends (not relatives) who have known you a long time, and are in a respected occupation.
  • When listing a referee in a CV or application form, give the person’s title, full contact address and, with the referee’s permission, phone number and e-mail address. It may also be helpful to list their job title under their name, e.g. Head of Department.

Check in advance that your referees are willing and able…

  • Before nominating someone as your referee on an application, you must seek their permission, and if you fail to do this, do not be surprised if no reference is provided.
  • Academic referees will have knowledge of your performance in your current programme of study. However, academic and non-academic referees are also often asked to comment on personal qualities and may have limited knowledge of you in this area, so you are advised to brief them about yourself, your personal qualities and plans, before nominating them as a referee. Things to include are details of any extra-curricular activities, which have helped develop your skills, and demonstrate your motivation for a particular career path, and any achievements, of which they may not be aware. It can be helpful to send your referees a copy of your latest CV.
  • If you brief your referees, they may be able to provide a more detailed reference for you. The overall quality of the reference letter can reflect directly on the person who is the subject of the reference letter.

References for academic jobs

  • When applying for jobs in Higher Education, such as Lectureships or research posts, you may be asked for up to 4 referees. These are often applied for at an early stage in the selection process, and your academic referees should ideally be highly respected amongst their academic peers.