Sources, reference lists and bibliographies

From Wordpower

Word Power

Word Power

Correct citation of references is a complex subject. The discussion here is intended to provide an introduction only and those that need further detail are referred to specialist publications and organisational style guides. Much of the information is this section is based on examples provided in The Style Manual for Authors, Editors and Printers, Sixth edition, Chapter 12 (Commonwealth of Australia 2002). Links to academic examples are provided at the end of this article.

We have talked previously about the importance of correctly citing the works of others. This is done through a variety of ways of which we shall discuss two basic systems. These are (i) the author-date system, and (ii) the documentary note system. There are a number of permutations of these and the author-date system has a number of different styles of which Chicago and APA are the most common. However, discussion of specific systems is beyond the scope of this article.

Author-date system

The author-date system is widely used and consists of a short in-line reference provided in parentheses within the document text, which is linked to a unique reference list in the bibliography that is usually arranged alphabetically.

For example, in the paragraph below there is an inline citation (highlighted for ease of identification):

‘According to Preston et al. (2006), the Asia-Pacific is exposed to a range of climate conditions and extreme events, and, as mentioned in Chapter I, ENSO strongly influences rainfall patterns in the region, bringing periodic drought and extreme sea levels in the southwest Pacific.’

This could also be written alternatively as:

 ‘The Asia-Pacific is exposed to a range of climate conditions and extreme events (Preston et al. 2006), and, as mentioned in Chapter I, ENSO strongly influences rainfall patterns in the region, bringing periodic drought and extreme sea levels in the southwest Pacific.’

The corresponding entry in the bibliography would read as follows:

Preston, BL, Suppiah R, Macadam I, & Bathols J 2006, ‘Climate change in the Asia/Pacific region: a consultancy report’ prepared for the Climate change and development roundtable. Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organization, Clayton, Vic.

In using the author date system, the usual rule to follow is to cite the reference in the text in one or other of the two forms shown above in the order of (i) author or authors and (ii) date. If there are more than three authors, then the term ‘et al’ is used after the name of the first author. Initials are not generally used in the inline citation and in the bibliography they appear after the author’s name for reasons of ordering the list which is done alphabetically following the family name of the first author (as given within the paper itself and which may not necessarily follow an alphabetic ordering since often the lead author is cited first).

Documentary note system

The documentary note system provides basically the same information but the approach is simpler. As we have discussed already, footnotes or endnotes can be used for a number of purposes including providing information that explains the main argument but which is supportive rather than being crucial to the text. Such notes can also be used for citation purposes and this is often the preferred method in situations where the number of references is small. It is also a simple system for young writers to understand.

The first time an author is cited in this fashion, the inline citation is merely a numeric reference to the bibliographic information contained in the footnote. The only difference between this system and the biography system described above is that the author’s initials precede the family name since alphabetic ordering is redundant in this system. The year of publication is also often given last. Thus, using this system, the example paragraph above would read as follows:

‘The Asia-Pacific is exposed to a range of climate conditions and extreme events1, and, as mentioned in Chapter I, ENSO strongly influences rainfall patterns in the region, bringing periodic drought and extreme sea levels in the southwest Pacific.’

The corresponding footnote or end-note would read:

BL Preston, R Suppiah, I Macadam & J Bathols, ‘Climate change in the Asia/Pacific region: a consultancy report’ prepared for the Climate change and development roundtable. Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organization, Clayton, Vic, 2006.

In relation to the last example we need to explain that Australian style is to place the footnote reference before the punctuation if in mid-sentence and only after the punctuation at the end of the sentence. The more general international format is to always place the reference after any punctuation and you should check your style guide to see whether any preferred system is designated. As in all things, consistency should be uppermost in your mind.

It is often good writing practice to use the note system as you draft as a means of recording (and recalling) your references. If subsequently you need to compile a full bibliography, then it is a much easier task if you have been compiling as your write.

As a final word on this topic, we should note that whichever system you apply to your writing (and we have only touched the surface of the subject here) personal communications generally have no place in a reference list. If you wish to refer to a personal communication whether it is a face-to-face interview, a fax or an email, this should be done within the main body text. For example:

‘According to the latest population data sent to this writer by fax from the Municipal Development Office on 15 August 2009, the population of the area over the past twelve months has increased by more than five per cent because of armed conflict in surrounding rural areas that forced many civilians to seek safety within the municipal boundary.’

The following documents may be helpful.

Harvard Reference List Overview (click here to access)

Harvard Referencing, Anglia Ruskin University (click here to access)

HIV Plus—Guidelines for writing about people with AIDS (click here to access)

University of Western Australia, Harvard Style Examples (click here to access)

 

 

 

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