Referencing in an Essay

Referencing your essay correctly can be the difference between pass or failure or between a 2:2 and 2:1.
Although examiners are very interested in the actual content of the essay , they are also keen to see that correct referencing has been inserted.

If an essay is border line pass/fail, incorrect referencing will potentially mean that the essay will be marked down. However, an averagely written essay may achieve a higher mark if correct referencing has been used.

There are various issues regarding referencing.

1) The outset.

If the instructions state that Harvard should be used, then ensure that you use Harvard and not Oxford or any other style of referencing. If you fail to follow the instructions you will definitely lose marks for the incorrect style and also failure to adhere to instructions will not find favour with examiners. The minute that examiners see that you have used the wrong referencing style, their approach and attitude to the essay will inevitably be marred by this fundamental error.

2) Consistency.

The correct referencing must be used throughout the essay. Marks will be lost where one style of referencing is used on one page and then another kind is used later on in the essay so that there is a mixture. Again this shows examiners that you cannot follow instructions and is also confusing.

The point of referencing is to enable examiners to readily identify the source of something contained or referred to in your essay. It is important that when quoting someone else’s words you attribute the words to that person by including the words in quotation marks followed by an appropriate referencing. So remember, you will lose marks if you are inconsistent in your referencing style. It is no good using referencing if it is the incorrect referencing.

3) Footnotes and Endnotes

Footnotes should be inserted at the bottom of the page in which the reference is made. When inserting endnotes, ensure that they are listed in alphabetical order.

4) Accuracy

Ensure that the referencing is accurate. Do not quote the incorrect year when referencing a court case. The same goes for the bibliography. Make sure that books are listed in alphabetical order by referring to authors and also insert the book publishers in all the references, not just some.

Familiarise yourself with the various referencing styles so that you do not lose valuable time looking back at the format required.

Make sure that every single issue/point that is not your own is correctly attributed, failing which you can be accused of plagiarism.

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