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Improving your technique

Referencing should not be treated as an add-on. It is a crucial part of academic work. Good referencing technique will help you develop a more critical mind that will allow you to evaluate your sources more rigorously.

Get into the habit of recording all the information about a source at the time that you are taking notes from it. Don't leave it till later. The most common problems in referencing and citation are caused by losing odd scraps of paper with important information on it. Think of referencing as a critical part of your work, not something to be added on at the end.

  • Follow the established conventions for your field unless you can convince others that you have found a better way of doing things. Be consistent.
  • Put yourself in the reader's position. Could you trace the source easily from the information provided?
  • Make all the entries in your bibliography consistent. A bibliographic software program such as Endnote can take some of the work out of referencing, particularly if you are a postgraduate.
  • The Monash Library has a useful online tutorial on using Endnote Opens in a new window. The libraries also conduct Endnote tutorials.
  • Get into the habit of using a style guide to help you with referencing, indeed to help you with many of the little style problems that come up in academic writing.
  • The Language and Learning Online QuickRefs handouts on referencing styles have more specific information on the principles and practice of referencing and citation.
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