Essay on Harvard Referencing

I have finally finished and submitted my essay on Harvard Referencing. I must say I did think it was going to be a lot harder to get something on paper than it actually was. As my friend Kaush wrote on her blog: “I (…) found the idea of the essay what frightened me, more than the actual essay…”. I couldn’t agree more. I struggled to get started but, once I did, it was actually quite easy. The words just kept flowing and, after cutting it down, I still had a few more words than I should.

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What is Referencing?

When working on a project – either it is an essay, an article, a book, a graphic novel, etc. –, we will most likely use a range of several sources in order to support and develop our ideas and opinions. These should always be credited and referenced using an appropriate referencing method. The one I will be focusing on in this essay is the Harvard Referencing system, although I am aware of the existence of other styles (for example, the APA and MLA).

The “Harvard Referencing” system is nothing more than a standard way of citing references. According to Chernin (1988, p. 1602), it traces back to the 19th century, when (in 1881) the director of Harvard’s zoological laboratory, Edward Laurens Mark, published a paper on the common garden slug. In his work, there was a parenthetic author-year citation followed by an explanatory footnote; these are the first evidences of the system.

The main principle of referencing is to serve as an evidence. As suggested by Shields and Pears (2015), by referring to the sources we used to support our work, we are not only demonstrating that we have, in fact, read, researched and analysed the writings of others in our subject area but also – and most importantly – avoiding any possible accusation of plagiarism.

If we don’t use referencing, readers will automatically assume everything in our work is ours and based solely on our own ideas, which will make us look like we think we know everything and don’t have the need to research. In addition, we might be blamed for stealing other people’s ideas and words.

One example of this situation is the case of the so-called poet Christian Ward, a poetry competition winner who was exposed as a plagiarist, as stated by Flood in her article (2013). Although he claims to have had “no intention of deliberately plagiarising”, the poetry community doesn’t seem to agree (Beasley, 2013). Nor do I. As I see it, Ward had only the prizes and recognition in mind and didn’t think of the consequences his actions would have.

Having said that, I will now concentrate on how to use referencing.

For different sources, we must use different ways of referencing. For instance, the way to reference a book will not be the same as to reference a painting. Even if using the same referencing style, there are minor changes that we should be familiar with. Here is an example for the formula for referencing a book and a magazine article, as shown in Cite them right online (Shields, G. and Pears, R., 2015):

Surname, Initial. (Year of publication) Title. Edition if not the 1st. Place of publication: publisher. Series and volume number if relevant.

Surname, Initial. (Year of publication) ‘Title of article’, Title of Magazine, Issue information, Page reference. doi: doi number.

Another point added by Greetham in his book (2009) is that although it is essential to use referencing methods, it is not always necessary: we don’t need to reference when regarding common knowledge.

To conclude, I do believe it is important to use referencing in our projects and works. It may seem irrelevant and worthless at first, but I’m sure it will become clear to all how rewarding it can be in our academic future.

 

References

  • Beasley, S. (2013) Nice Poem; I’ll Take It. Available at: http://www.nytimes.com (Accessed: 10 November 2015).
  • Chernin, E. (1988) “The ‘Harvard system’: a mystery dispelled”, British Medical Journal. October 22, 1988, pp. 1062–1063
  • Flood, A. (2013) Poetry competition winner exposed as a plagiarist. Available at: http://www.theguardian.com (Accessed: 10 November 2015).
  • Greetham, B. (2009) How to Write your Undergraduate Dissertation. Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan.
  • Shields, G. and Pears, R. (2015) Cite them right online. Available at: http://www.citethemrightonline.com (Accessed: 7 November 2015).

 

Bibliography

  • Beasley, S. (2013) Nice Poem; I’ll Take It. Available at: http://www.nytimes.com (Accessed: 10 November 2015).
  • Bryson, D. (2013) “Referencing web pages and e-journals”, Journal of Visual Communication in Medicine, 36 (3-4), pp. 146-149. doi: 10.3109/17453054.2013.851649
  • Chernin, E. (1988) “The ‘Harvard system’: a mystery dispelled”, British Medical Journal. October 22, 1988, pp. 1062–1063
  • Flood, A. (2013) Poetry competition winner exposed as a plagiarist. Available at: http://www.theguardian.com (Accessed: 10 November 2015).
  • Greetham, B. (2009) How to Write your Undergraduate Dissertation. Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan.
  • Lethem, J. (2007) The Ecstasy of Influence. Available at: http://www.harpers.org.arts.idm.oclc.org (Accessed: 10 November 2015).
  • Neville, C. (2010) The Complete Guide to Referencing and Avoiding Plagiarism. 2nd Maidenhead: Open University Press.
  • Shields, D. (2011) In Writing, Art And Music, Everybody Steals. Available at: http://www.huffingtonpost.com (Accessed: 10 November 2015).
  • Shields, G. and Pears, R. (2015) Cite them right online. Available at: http://www.citethemrightonline.com (Accessed: 7 November 2015).
  • Trip, G. (2010) Plagiarism Lines Blur for Students in Digital Age. Available at: http://www.nytimes.com (Accessed: 10 November 2015)
  • University of Exeter (2001) Referencing – The Harvard System. Available at: http://www.education.exeter.ac.uk (Accessed: 9 November 2015)