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Citing references

Citing references

Terms such as citing, citation, referencing and bibliography all refer to the academic convention of acknowledging your sources to give proper credit to other people’s work and ideas. The terminology used may vary slightly - and the systems used for referencing may vary substantially - but the basic fact of what you are trying to do remains the same. You are:

  •  Showing you have consulted widely
  •  Signposting related works and publications
  •  Substantiating any statement you make
  •  Enabling others to check the evidence and accuracy of your information

You need to make a note of everything you read, consult or look at; all the information that will enable you to write your paper. This might be all manner of things; from books and journal articles to video installations and blog postings, from films and websites to archive material and acts of parliament.

When you refer to the source of information within your work, it is called an in-text citation. Every in-text citation needs to be given a full reference in the bibliography (sometimes called a reference list) at the end of your work.


For example, if your tutor has asked you to use the Harvard style of referencing (also called the Harvard System or the author-date approach) then an in-text citation might look like this:

The argument has been made that the most important thing about referencing is to be consistent (Smith, 2011, p.26)

And the full reference in the bibliography at the end of your work might look like this:

Smith, R. (2011) Refocusing the academic agenda: a guide for doctoral supervisors. 2nd ed. New York: Diamond Books.


Referencing styles vary from School to School and sometimes from department to department. There is no one style which is used across the whole of King’s; and even when the same style is used e.g. Harvard, there will be differences in how it is used. Follow any guidelines you have been given, and remember to be consistent and accurate and to leave yourself enough time to organise and check your bibliography before you submit your work.


Regardless of which style you use, some basic conventions apply:

1) When citing the work of one author found in the work of another author, you should acknowledge that you did not consult the original source

e.g. Brown’s results cited by Jones (1986, p. 521) indicated that...

2) When directly quoting from a source, use quotation marks for short quotations or indentations for longer extracts and include the page numbers in the citation

e.g. The interactions between police and public were “mildly aggressive, expected and unremarkable” (Kamal, 2013, p.17)

3) When paraphrasing (taking someone else’s ideas and expressing them in your own way), a citation must still be given to acknowledge the source of the idea

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