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Referencing: Principles, Practice and Problems

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Author(s): Colin Neville

Journal: RGUHS Journal of Pharmaceutical Sciences
ISSN 2249-2208

Volume: 2;
Issue: 2;
Start page: 1;
Date: 2012;
Original page

Keywords: Referencing | citations | bibliographies | avoiding plagiarism | academic writing.

ABSTRACT
This paper explores a neglected aspect of academic writing, namely the principles and practice of referencing sources. In recent years, plagiarism has been a dominant concern for higher education practitioners. However, there can be a fine line between plagiarism and poor referencing practice, and higher education institutions report that students often struggle to understand, not just the ‘how’, but the ‘when’ and ‘why’ aspects of referencing. This paper will, however, assert that student difficulties can stem from the inconsistencies of institutional advice, proliferation of referencing styles, and an over-emphasis by institutions on the technical presentation of sources, rather than on the principles underpinning referencing. The author will argue that academic writers, particularly students, should be encouraged by institutions to perceive referencing primarily as a tool for the development of an authentic authorial voice, rather than just as a defensive shield against accusations of plagiarism.

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