What is referencing?

By Priya Chetty on July 14, 2014

References are an essential part in any research paper. It is important that you cite the source of your borrowed idea and quote. By providing the source you are acknowledging in your paper that you have read the work and have recognized the referred author’s ideas. It helps the reader to get the bigger picture of your argument and also how the point relates to your topic.


Suppose you are writing the definition of marketing.

Without references:

Without referencing
Without referencing

With references:

With referencing
With referencing

Likewise, all important statements, claims, facts and figures, etc. need references and correct citations.

Different referencing styles

Citation or referencing can be done in different styles, depending on the university rules. Popular referencing methods are:

  • Harvard
  • MLA
  • APA

There are more referencing styles which has not been included in this article.

End list of references

At the end of the document list all the references with their complete details. Which includes:

  • Full name of the Author.
  • Year of Publication.
  • Name of the book.
  • Publisher name, and city of publication.

To know how to create your end list of references click here.

Take care of the following things while citing sources in your academic paper:

8 simple rules

  1. Use references wherever you are stating a fact/ figure/ claim/ definition.
  2. References should not be more than 5 years old. For example, if you are writing a paper in the year 2014, every reference you use should be published after 2009.
  3. Use more journals than books or internet articles. It increases the credibility of your paper.
  4. Do not use blogs or unpublished and non-credible sources. They hold absolutely no credibility.
  5. If you are giving any definition, then the page number of the book/journal should be mentioned.
  6. Remember to list the end list of references in alphabetical order.
  7. Every figure/table/ graph should cite the source.
  8. Commas, full stops, brackets, etc. should be at the right place and uniform in the list of references.

Mendeley is one of the online tools that will make your referencing task much simpler and organised.

I am a management graduate with specialisation in Marketing and Finance. I have over 12 years' experience in research and analysis. This includes fundamental and applied research in the domains of management and social sciences. I am well versed with academic research principles. Over the years i have developed a mastery in different types of data analysis on different applications like SPSS, Amos, and NVIVO. My expertise lies in inferring the findings and creating actionable strategies based on them. 

Over the past decade I have also built a profile as a researcher on Project Guru's Knowledge Tank division. I have penned over 200 articles that have earned me 400+ citations so far. My Google Scholar profile can be accessed here

I now consult university faculty through Faculty Development Programs (FDPs) on the latest developments in the field of research. I also guide individual researchers on how they can commercialise their inventions or research findings. Other developments im actively involved in at Project Guru include strengthening the "Publish" division as a bridge between industry and academia by bringing together experienced research persons, learners, and practitioners to collaboratively work on a common goal.