How to reference and why it’s important

How to reference and why it’s important

“Why is referencing important?” you may ask. It takes up a large chunk of research time and keeping track of all the files and data seems to be next to impossible! surely it gets in the way of academic progress. You’re not alone if you’re experiencing this frustration. Every weathered professor and budding researcher have trekked through the same forest of research papers as you have, cutting through those which aren’t useful and picking up those that they can use.

It’s a skill, really. Referencing is vital to creating a viable academic paper, so you’d better acquire this skill and polish it off. The sooner you do this, the better. And the better grades you will receive.

Picking a referencing format

Looking at the reference section of a research paper, the words may just seem like they are jumbled together – names, universities, scientific journals, dates – where’s the structure?

There is, in fact, a regulated format. “Formats” to be precise. You can pick and choose between these formats but be sure to stick to whichever one you fine appropriate to your paper. It’s simply proper etiquette to maintain format, just like putting a full stop at the end of a sentence.

Some of the formats available are the American Psychological Association style (APA,) Chicago/Turabian style and Modern Language Association style (MLA.)  No format is better over the other; all you need to do is pick the one that is recommended in your field and stick to it. There is not a great discrepancy between the formats with only differences in sentence structure present.

Picking a good reference

Try to pick a reputable reference that has been cited numerous times in a variety of papers. This gives substance and credibility to your reference. Another tip is to reference newer papers on the topic if possible; older papers are generally not considered a reliable source of information unless they are seminal works of research that cannot be ignored.

Why do I need to format?

So why must we reference then? Referencing is, to put it simply, an effective and universal method of giving credit where credit is due. It simply cannot be neglected and is highly frowned upon within academic circles not to reference. It is considered plagiarism to use the hard work of others to further your paper without including a citation.

The most hassle-free way to format is by using a referencing site such as ‘Endnote’ on which you can compile your entire listing of references and export them to a word document or whatever writing tool you are using. ‘Endnote’ is routinely used by the top researchers due to its simplicity and ease of use. ‘Endnote’ will even number your references for you, allowing anyone correcting your paper to know exactly what section of your paper is related to the reference.

Becoming familiar with referencing and skilled in its application is vital towards a successful career in any field that involves research. The earlier you learn, the better. Get practicing today by writing mock papers and attempt to reference some research papers to it by using ‘Endnote.’

There are also other citation and referencing applications and sites available, such as Zotero or Mendeley, if you don’t find ‘Endnote’ to your liking. So, try it out now and get a hold of the ropes before the deadline approaches!

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