References are the building blocks of any good research paper. Not only are they indicative of the source of the current research, but they also help readers understand the content better. But, often they become stumbling blocks as well. Any student or researcher who has to submit an assignment/paper has struggled with citations and references. Fortunately, there are a lot of resources available for academic writing help as well as online assignment writing services to help you polish your paper.
There are no ground rules or a set pattern for the number of references an academic article can have. They can be a one-page document or run into ten or more, depending on the subject. A thorough researcher, at any given time, could be dealing with more than 100 different papers, conference reports, video or audio clips, medical guidelines, or other resources.
While this in itself is a lot of content to manage, a further complex job is to check cross-references in your text and neatly organize and format the entire list of resources. This takes a toll on the researcher, and many dread the task even before it begins.
To simplify matters, let’s understand the requirements of citations and references, separately.
Citations – what goes into them?
Citations are all about giving your readers the information necessary to find the source again. It should contain information about:
- Title of the work
- The source’s name and location
- Publishing date
- Page numbers of the material from where you borrowed content
It’s always a good practice to cite when you use quotes, paraphrase, use ideas from someone else’s work, or specifically refer to someone’s work. Citations should be all about consistency; if there is a particular format to be followed (name, year, date), stick to it throughout.
Your citations must also be accurate and match with your references list. As all academic papers have a requirement of including citations in the list, it’s important to cross-check. Sometimes, formatting a document disturbs the citation order, so make it a practice to always check the order before submission.
References – what goes into them?
You need to refer to all the cases when you are borrowing words or ideas from the original published sources like:
- Books and journal articles
- Newspapers and magazines
- Pamphlets or brochures
- Films, documentaries, television programs or advertisements
- Audio or video content on social media Websites or electronic resources
- Letters, emails, online discussion forums
- Personal interviews
- Professors, scientists or any known public figure
- Diagrams, illustrations, charts or pictures
References, ideally, come on a separate page at the end of your assignment and include all the details of your in-text references, arranged alphabetically.
Often, ‘bibliography’ and ‘references’ are used interchangeably. They are, however, different terms. References include only those items that you have referenced in your assignment or paper. Bibliography, on the other hand, also includes items used to prepare your assignment; it’s more common for scientific papers.
Tips to make referencing easier for your document
We bring you some tips that could help you sift through the jungle of cross-references and present your paper in time without losing your mind!
- Be consistent: You must be consistent with the format of your references. Various universities and organizations have different versions; you need to factor in yours. If you use the wrong format, you risk the chances of subjecting yourself to plagiarism. Once you know which referencing style to use for a specific unit, be consistent as possible within that style.
- Be accurate: There can be variations even within one referencing style. Some universities follow established guidelines like the ones prescribed by APA or Chicago Manual. And some will either come up with their own style guides or merge the best options into one. Either way, it’s always a good practice to keep the guidelines handy while preparing your list to minimize errors.
- Be organized: Don’t neglect the value of your reference sheet as it can make or break your paper. Researchers often commit the mistake of devoting all their energies on the paper, leaving little time for the reference list. When you are in the process of organizing your paper in different sections, include references also as a section, which would involuntarily draw your attention to it and make you take the time out to focus on it as a separate head.
- Divide your time: We know it’s difficult to allocate time to each section when writing a well-researched paper; several factors are at play. But doing that will force your hand and keeps your energies focused, so it doesn’t look like a rush job.
- Record the details: As you go along, record all the details of the text that you are using in a separate note sheet or at the top of the first page of your notes. Note down the author’s name, the title of the text, page numbers, and the date of publication. This technique will save you a great deal of time and stress, and you don’t have to go back while making the reference list.
- Separate your ideas: This is one more technique that comes in handy. Sometimes while referencing someone’s work, you go along with the flow and add your ideas. In the end, it becomes difficult for you to separate the two. Colour coding your ideas from the author’s or the source will save you time. You can do that on a piece of paper or a separate document on your computer, whatever is comfortable. Use audio assistants if you will.
- Create a veritable context: Ensure your content agrees with the facts and fortify it with substantiated statements. It will then make your job easier to cite a particular idea within the text and in the reference list.
Referencing can be a complex task but with the right tools or guidance from an online assignment writing service, your job is much easier. Remember, always research as well as consult any academic writing help to make your reference list a star as much as the original paper.