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Advanced literature searching skills: Referencing and software to help

Introduction to referencing

glasses and bookWhen writing a piece of academic work, it is essential that you fully acknowledge all of the books, articles and other sources that you have used so that you can demonstrate the breadth of your research and avoid plagiarism.  Plagiarism is where you use another person's work or idea without acknowledgement.  It's easy to do unintentionally.  We won't be covering plagiarism here, but you'll learn more about it (and how to avoid it) when you start your studies. 
It's likely that you'll already have some experience of referencing, but at postgraduate level you'll probably reference a greater variety of sources than in your undergraduate studies.  You may not have considered using software to help manage your references before - but we highly recommend that you do.  More about software later. 

Let's recap some of the basics of referencing first. 


To acknowledge a source: you must write a citation at the point in your writing where you have made use of a specific source of information.  A citation normally includes either an author’s name or a number (depending on the referencing style you are required to use). 


You also need to write a corresponding reference which includes more detail about the same source, and appears within a list references at the end of your text.  

Referencing styles

There are two basic systems of citing and referencing; the name/date system and the numeric system. Many different referencing styles are associated with both systems. Name/date styles include Harvard (Bath) and APA 6th. Numeric styles include IEEE and RSC.

The Library website has an in-depth guide to referencing. We're just going to cover a few basics here and we will concentrate on the name/date system using the Harvard Bath style. 

Test yourselfQuiz

Take a look at the following video (14 mins) and pause the recording to try out the activities when directed. You'll need to search the Library Catalogue for the activity.   If you are not currently a student at Bath, please refer to the worksheet below which includes a screenshot to help you answer the database question.  

Software to help

upended drawing pinsBenefits to using referencing software

  • Referencing software will help you format your references in your chosen style.
  • You can quickly change style if you’re asked to use a different one.
  • It's a great time saver and will help you organise your references too - for example into groups for different assignments.
  • You can export references out of multiple Library databases and into your own personal file of references.
  • When you are ready to create your reference list, the software does this for you, putting all your chosen sources in order, with all the required punctuation and in the referencing style that you have chosen. 
  • If you want to, you can also work in a dynamic way with referencing software so that as you write your assignment in Microsoft Word, you can import your references straight into your document, so that they appear as citations in your main text and as references in your reference list / bibliography.  This feature is known as 'cite while you write' or CWYW.

If you would like to see CWYW demonstrated, take a look at the video below.  

If you would like to learn more about referencing software and how to choose which to use, take a look at the following video. 

To finish, see the summary for some final thoughts and advice next