Referencing

It is absolutely essential that when writing essays and dissertations you identify clearly the sources you are using. Whenever your words quote from, paraphrase, or rely substantially upon someone else’s words, you must tell us – by ‘citing’ the source. Not to do so is considered ‘plagiarism’ – academic theft – and (as explained in the College Handbook) it will be dealt with severely. There are two different systems that you can use to provide citations. Pick one of them, and use it carefully and consistently.  Some tutors will have a clear preference for one system or the other: please consult your module tutor if you are in doubt.

The Footnote System

For the footnote system, citations appear in footnotes to the main text. There is no need for a separate bibliography at the end of the essay.

For a full example please see the Theology Footnote System Model‌ ‌(PDF).

The Harvard System

For the ‘Harvard’ system, do not use a footnote to identify sources. Instead, place a citation in brackets in the text itself. These citations will point readers to the bibliography of ‘References’ that you place at the end of the essay.

For a full example please see the Theology Harvard System Model (PDF).

Using materials from the Internet

There are plenty of useful materials on the Internet, but there is also plenty of rubbish. When you find something that looks relevant, always ask yourself where it comes from.

Look on the page you've found to see if you can find any details about the author and his or her institution, or something about the organisation that is presenting the material to you. If you can't find anything on the page itself, try finding the higher level pages which link to the page you're reading - if, for instance, you found yourself looking at apparently useful stuff on a page at http://www.dodgyinfo.com/made-up-stuff/essay-answers.html, try looking at http://www.dodgyinfo.com/made-up-stuff/ and http://www.dodgyinfo.com/ to find out more about the organisation that is providing this information.

There are no hard and fast rules about what to trust, of course, but use your common sense:

• Material from University sites, particularly from a major University (one that you've heard of!), is likely to be more academically trustworthy than material from a slightly more ambiguous source e.g. wikipedia.
• Material on a page that is carefully and thoughtfully put together may well be of higher quality than material on a page that looks like it has been dreamed up by someone whose mind is really on other things.
• Material on a page that gives easy access to information about who wrote the material, when, and where may well be more trustworthy than material on a page that doesn't let any of that information out.
• Material that is well-referenced (i.e., that includes proper references for its quotations and so on) is likely to be more trustworthy than material that doesn't bother with all that.
• Material that is measured and considered in its arguments is likely to be more trustworthy than material that screams sarcastically at its opponents.

All these 'rules' can be broken, but they're a good starting point.

Above all, however, given the nature of materials on the web, always ask yourself what the site’s angle is – what axes it is grinding. An awful lot of material on the web, even material that ticks all the boxes listed above, suffers from strong bias. Most paper books and journals you see have been through a pretty rigorous process of peer review, checking and editing before making it onto the library shelves; not so with web materials.

If you cite material from the web, give the author, title, full web address, date of publication, and date accessed.

Goring, T, ‘Off with their heads!’, http://www.worldbank.com/testimonials.htm 2010, [accessed 24 Aug 2010].

The date at the end in square brackets is the date when you looked at the page - web pages change frequently, so this information is important. Sometimes the author’s details or the date of publication/update might be missing. When the author’s name is missing, use the name of the webpage to list the reference, as you would with any other anonymous source. If the date of publication or update is missing, omit this information, but be sure to still include in square brackets the date you accessed the information.