Reference practices

Any arguments you present in a thesis must be grounded on your own analysis and on research that has been published before. It is vital to have clear and logical source annotation so that the reader will know what you base your claims on. Source references give the reader the opportunity to learn more about the topic. In theses, you can also use source references to prove that you are well-read and have expert knowledge about your field.

The main point about references is that they have to contain enough information, and that they are presented in the same way throughout one publication. An in-text reference should be indicated so that the reader clearly can see the difference between the quoted part and the author’s own analysis. The in-text reference should also direct the reader to the correct place in the list of reference with more detailed information about the source.

The list of references or bibliography should give detailed enough information about the source, so that the reader can go back to the source to check facts. The list of reference should contain exact bibliographic data, i.e. name of author and title of work, publishing data (name of publisher, and publishing location and date), and possibly name of series or journal. The text reference and the bibliographic data must correspond exactly, so that it is easy to find the source in the list of reference!

Learn to indicate references accurately, carefully and logically from the start of your studies.

Waiting for the bus, Raymond suddenly met his suspicious acquaintance, Arso Nist, who said he had heard that Raymond was preparing an assignment for the course Unbearable Lightness of Studying. Nist was interested in Raymond’s topic. Nist kindly pointed out quite a few references he had listed in his blog and offered them for Raymond to use. Raymond found Nist’s blog and noticed that, in fact, many of the references had Arso Nist inappropriately listed as one of the authors. After checking the references in the database and concluding that Nist was blatantly spreading falsified references, Raymond sent him a stern message, emphasising the importance of keeping to good academic practice.

Reference styles

Different reference styles (APA, CBE, Chicago,Harvard, Vancouver etc) are used in different fields. In practice, you will always have to find out which style to use from your degree programme or thesis supervisor. You will be instructed by the course lecturer or Studies Service about which format to use in your study assignments and theses. Some examples below:

APA (American Psychological Association)  reference style
In text: (Regehr, Glancy, & Pitts, 2013)
Reference list: Regehr, C., Glancy, D., & Pitts, A. (2013). Interventions to reduce stress in university students: A review and meta-analysis. Journal of Affective Disorders, 148(1), 1-11. doi:

Harvard reference style 
In text: (Regehr, Glancy et al. 2013)
Reference: REGEHR, C., GLANCY, D. and PITTS, A., 2013. Interventions to reduce stress in university students: a review and meta-analysis. Journal of affective disorders, 148(1), pp. 1-11.

From the reference you can see:
authors: Regehr, C., Glancy, D., & Pitts, A.
title of the article: Interventions to reduce stress in university students: A review and meta-analysis
publication year: 2013
journal where the article is published: Journal of affective disorders
volume of the journal: 148
issue of the journal within that volume: 1
page numbers: 1-11
digital object identifier (doi); persistent identifier used to uniquely identify the document:

Electronic sources

In principle, electronic sources are referenced in the same way as other written sources. E-books do not always display page numbers, for example, if you are using an e-book reader. In this case, you can use the chapter number instead of the page number to indicate where in the e-book the matter you are discussing can be found.

Your bibliography must also provide adequate information about electronic sources, including the name(s) of the author(s), the name of the publication, the publisher and the time and place of publication. In addition, try to indicate the type of the online material and how the material can be found.

To make it easier to find the material, you can also indicate the permanent identifier (DOI, Handle or URN) of the electronic source, in addition to the basic and author information. If the electronic source does not have a permanent identifier, enter at least the URL. If the information source is regularly updated or no reliable date of publication can be found for it, you can mark the date you accessed it in square brackets.

In addition to books and research articles, source materials may include websites, blogs, social media updates, emails, digital images, audio files, podcasts and videos recordings. In the bibliography, you can also enter the type of material in square brackets, for example [blog post], if this is not otherwise obvious.

Reference management

Reference management programs make it possible to gather academic references into a database. This allows you to create a list of references at the end of your document according to your own template, for example, or arrange references according to use, remove double references, and make information searches among the references. There are many different reference-management programs, such as Mendeley, Zotero and EndNote.

Read more:
Academic writing and academic writing skills (Studies service)
Reference management tools and their use (Reference management guide)