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Complete and accurate referencing of the sources you use in your work is essential. Referencing is a requirement of all academic writing for two important reasons.
Referencing requires meticulous note taking and record keeping while you are gathering material from academic literature, and you must also be consistent in the way you add the details to your own documents. If you have to go back and alter your references further into your study it could involve a great deal of additional work.
The OU generally uses the Harvard referencing system, which uses brackets within the text rather than footnotes and endnotes. However, do check your study guide in case another system is preferred, and make a point of confirming with your tutor fairly early on that you are referencing in the required manner.
The benefit of the Harvard system is that you only include essential reference information in the actual text (the citation), with full details held in a reference list or bibliography.
In the bibliography, each type of source is presented in a particular way, so articles from journals can easily be distinguished from chapters in books, and so on. The texts listed in your bibliography should appear in alphabetical order by author’s surname, then within that by date of publication. Your textbooks can be a useful model for organising a bibliography.
Remember that you only need to include a reference to the sources you used in your writing; sources you have looked at but haven’t referred to don’t need to be included.
You can organise your referencing using electronic resources, which enable you to create bibliographies automatically, directly import references from databases, and safely store your references. There is more information in the library about bibliographic management software.