UCT Harvard Referencing
An important characteristic of academic writing is the acknowledgement of other writers’ words or creations through citing and referencing all sources of information used. Citing is the practice of quoting from, or referring to other writers’ works and ideas in one’s own text. Referencing is the listing of the full details of the publications that have been cited, so that the reader can find the original sources. Citing and referencing have long been regarded as indicators of academic writing.
Good reasons for citation
Writing is ‘intellectual property’ and credit has to be given to authors who first expressed an idea. The practice of citing and referencing the work of others is the best way of protecting oneself from being accused of, or committing plagiarism. (See: “Plagiarism in academic writing” in Section 4.)
Relevant citations show the reader that the literature in a field has been read and understood, and that the writer is familiar with the important researchers in the particular field of study. This gives authority to statements by showing that arguments are supported by other authors. If some authoritative sources have been left out, or if the work relies on the writings of lesser or discredited authors, this may detract from the new work. Citations show how familiar one is with recent texts. In certain subject fields it is very important to be aware of new developments. References enable the reader to check source accuracy, or to establish context.