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How to Correctly Reference a Dissertation

Referencing is very important in academic writing, no matter the level. Doing this correctly gives your work credibility aside and tells the marker the research you did on the topic. Also, note that you can’t submit a dissertation without a ‘scholarly reference.’ But how to do this correctly is sometimes a problem for students, especially first-timers.

What is the academic referencing?

Academic referencing is a way of acknowledging the sources you picked information for your work. It also helps readers to visit the sources you’ve cited easily. There are three main styles of scholarly referencing, but they also come in categories. The stages for referencing include

  • The author of the work
  • The title of the work
  • The type of publication (e.g., webpage, journal article, a whole book, book chapter)
  • The publication date
  • The publisher and place of publication
  • You can also add further information like (volume and issue number, page range) to help readers

As already mentioned, citations are critical in academic work because it prevents

  • Being accused of plagiarism
  • Helps readers to revisit the sources for further engagements
  • Proves that your work has been thoroughly researched

Types of referencing systems you can use

Don’t have the luxury of choosing from a vast list of referencing styles for your dissertation. It is either you use the

  1. Parenthetical and footnote referencing (for Arts and Humanities) or
  2. Parenthetical and numerical styles (for Arts or Humanities)

Most universities have their preferred style for citation. However, if you have the freedom to choose one for yourself, you should ask yourself the following

  • How many do you intend to quote?
  • Would you briefly cite those sources or use them extensively?
  • Are you going for direct quotes or paraphrasing?

How to reference your dissertation correctly and effectively

1.    Employ a systematic approach

You are surely going to have hundreds of sources to cite when referencing a dissertation. It is always difficult to remember all your cited sources and attach its bibliographic details if you plan to leave referencing until the end. Therefore, you need to adopt a practical, systematic approach to tracking and organizing all your sources. This would help you in later retrieval and use in your bibliography and in-text.

2.    Use a software

Thanks to technology, there are several ways to store or keep track of your sources and research. You can use a spreadsheet, notepad, or reference management software, which has proven to be very efficient. Some of the popular software for citation includes RefWorks, EndNote, and Zotero. These software packages save time, are easy to retrieval, and very efficient.

Styles of referencing systems

1.    Parenthetical System

The parenthetical system is the most common and most used citation style in academia. It allows readers to trace a source in the reference list easily. The parenthetical reference uses the author’s last name, followed by the date of publication.

Examples of the parenthetical system include the,

  • Chicago (author-date)
  • MLA (Modern Language Association)
  • Harvard
  • APA (American Psychological Association)

2.    Footnote/endnote referencing styles

This referencing style is common in the Arts and Humanities disciplines and is mostly used in the UK and Commonwealth countries. Examples of footnote styles are

  • MHRA (Modern Humanities Research Association)
  • Oxford
  • Chicago (footnote style)

3.    Numbered referencing styles

Numbered referencing is mostly used in the sciences and applies to contents, with many possible sources be briefly referenced or paraphrased.

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