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Write it Right

A guide to Harvard referencing system

What is Referencing?

When you write an assignment at the Institute you are required to indicate that you have used the ideas and written material belonging to other authors in your own work both in the text of your assignment and in a reference list at the end of your assignment. This practice of acknowledging authors is known as referencing. The following are examples of sources that you might acknowledge in your assignment:

  •  Books;
  • Journal articles;
  •  Electronic journal articles;
  •  World Wide Web pages, paintings, images, drawings and diagrams;
  •  Emails;
  •  Social Media;
  •  Video, DVD, Film & audio tape recordings;
  •  Newspapers;
  •  Conference papers;
  •  Radio/TV broadcasts (please check with your lecturer if it is advisable to use these in your assignment)
  •  Personal communication;
  •  Interviews (If this is a personal interview, you must always ask permission of the interviewee before using such material); and,
  •  Theses and other academic work.

Which referencing system should you use?

There are many different referencing systems widely used in academic writing. LIT acknowledges 2 systems:

  • Author- Date systems commonly known as Harvard or APA (American Psychological Association)
  • Numerical systems sometimes referred to as Footnoting, Endnoting or Vancouver.

Harvard (‘Author-date’) system

There are two parts to the author-date system of referencing.

  • The author and the date are referred to in the text or main body of your writing (this is called ‘citing’ or ‘in text referencing’)
  • All of the resources referred to in the body of the writing are included in the reference list at the end of the assignment.

What are the essential elements?

Author Year Article title Publication title

& issue

Place of publication Publisher Edition Page numbers Web address Date accessed

Book chapter

Journal article (print or PDF)

Journal article (web)



Why should you reference?

  • You receive credit for all the background research and hard work you've done which will contribute towards a good mark (Epigeum 2011).
  • You receive feedback on work that is your own so that you can understand how to improve and develop your ability to write and express yourself clearly.
  • It places your own work in context by showing how it relates to prior research and current academic debates in your discipline.
  • It demonstrates your intellectual integrity by acknowledging the influence of other people's work on your own and by distinguishing clearly between their work and your own ideas.
  • It allows your reader to explore the subject further by looking up your sources and reviewing them in greater depth.
  • Plagiarism may be unintentional and the result of carelessness but it is still plagiarism. Remember that academics are much attuned to detecting plagiarism because they are in command of the relevant subject literature and are sensitive to changes in writing style.
  • Disciplinary procedures may apply in cases of serious proven plagiarism.

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