Learning Connection—Learning Guide
Referencing using the Harvard author-date
What is referencing?
What are the rules of referencing?
Student essay sample
Managing your references
More referencing examples
Frequently asked questions
What is referencing?
Referencing, or citing, means acknowledging the sources of information and ideas you have used in an assignment (eg. essay or report). This is a standard practice at university. It means whenever you write an assignment that requires you to find and use information from other sources, you are expected to reference these resources in your writing. Sources could include books, journal or newspaper articles, items from the internet, pictures or diagrams. Why reference?
In academic assignments you are required to read widely so you can identify the current thinking about a particular topic. You then use the ideas expressed by other people to reinforce the arguments you present in your assignment. The referencing in your assignment shows two things:
the range of ideas and approaches to a topic that you have found and thought about
your acknowledgement of where these ideas came from.
By using references appropriately, you will show the breadth and quality of your research and avoid plagiarism. Plagiarism is taking on as your own someone else’s ideas and/or the way they express their ideas. Most plagiarism is unintentional and writers are often unaware that their writing could be considered as plagiarism. Referencing is one skill that helps writers avoid unintentional plagiarism 1.
What are the ‘rules’ of referencing?
There are three main rules of referencing.
A reference must be included every time you use someone else’s ideas or information.
A reference must be included when you:
paraphrase (express someone else’s idea in your own words)
summarise (express someone else’s idea in a reduced form in your own words)
quote (express someone else’s idea in their exact words) or
copy (reproduce a diagram, graph or table from someone else’s work).
See the learning guide ‘Avoiding Plagiarism’ at
Written by Learning Advisers in Learning Connection in collaboration with Librarians © University of South Australia, November 2004
Each reference must appear in two places:
shown in the text of your assignment each time it is used (the in-text reference)
listed once in the reference list at the end of the assignment. This listing has full details so that your reader can find the reference.
The two most common types of referencing systems used are:
author-date systems, such as the Harvard system, APA and MLA
numerical systems, such as Chicago or Turabian, Vancouver and Footnote.
If your course requires the use of a particular system (for instance, psychology students may use the APA referencing system, and some engineering students may have to use endnotes), you should follow the system specified for your course. Check any specific requirements in your course handout materials or with your lecturer. Resources for a number of different systems are available through the Learning Connection website. 2 Managing your references
Whenever you find a source of information that might be useful in an assignment, record all of the details of the source required for referencing before you begin to make notes. Fill out the details on a proforma (see below) and attach them to your notes. This will help you to keep track of the important details you need for referencing and will help you avoid plagiarism.
BOOK or SECTION FROM A BOOK
Year of publication:
Place of publication:
References: viewed 5 April, 2004,
Escritt (2000) argues that…
Escritt, S 2000, Art nouveau, Phaidon, London.
According to Cooper, Krever and Vann (2002) …
Cooper, GS, Krever, E & Vann, RJ 2002, Income taxation: commentary and
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