UNIVERSITY OF SOUTHAMPTON
School of Ocean and Earth Science
HOW TO CITE REFERENCES
The ability to cite references (i.e. to refer to literature utilised in the compilation of written work)
correctly is an important part of every student’s stock-in-trade.
However, it is firstly extremely
important to state that you should only use
to support your work.
Appropriate material includes books and journal articles (usually referred to as ‘papers’), official
reports, etc., all of which are usually peer-reviewed by fellow academics and experts, thus
assuring the veracity and quality of the information. This
be said of another class of
information which you may well have employed in the past to help with your research, namely
Anyone can publish a website, and very few of them are subject to the process of
Thus the veracity and validity of the vast majority of information available through
the medium of the World Wide Web is questionable.
Therefore websites attributed to private
individuals, such sites as
and even university
(e.g. lecture notes,
Powerpoint presentations, Blackboard website information - even when provided by members of
sources of information to cite in formal degree-level work.
There are exceptions to this rule, in that internet resources providing information from ‘official’
sources, such as those maintained by governmental, academic, national and international
organisations may be cited in reference material.
A general rule is that you should always return to the original, formal publication as your
citation as support for a specific piece of information provided in a piece of written work
(i.e. if you wish to cite the work of Author A, do not cite the work of Author B who
reporting the findings of Author A in a later publication, seek out and read the original
work by Author A – later authors have been known to misrepresent the work of earlier
Correct citation should be a standard technique used automatically in the preparation and
presentation of essays, seminar papers, dissertations, research project reports and theses.
in the interests of both the writer and the readers of such pieces of work that references should
be cited correctly, systematically and in full, so that they form a useful integral part of the work as
It is perhaps worth beginning this text with a few definitions of terms which will be used
during your studies and within this document (examples of which will appear later):