Why Referencing Is Essential in Academic Research


As you do your research, do you ever think of the individual(s) that put in the effort to come up with the secondary source utilized for your research? While putting together your research work, you need to include other researcher’s works and refer to credible sources to gather information. It aids your research to maintain accurate information and credibility. Therefore, you must understand the importance of citing or referencing while writing your academic research papers.

Academic writing is more predominant in higher learning but is nurtured from a very young age in academia. As you advance, you utilize referencing as a writing tool. You get to learn different citation methods and ways to use them across different disciplines.

 Is the sole purpose of referencing giving more exposure to the author of certain work? In this article we will look into why referencing is important in academic research.

What is referencing

Referencing also known as citation is a technique of classifying and recognizing someone’s work that you have utilized in your research. Citation assists your audience link between information and its source. The most significant factors you need to include while using a referencing style are as follows

·         Name of the author

·         Title of research

·         Name of book or Title of the journal

·         Date of publication

·         Location and name of the publishing company

·         Digital Object Identifier (DOI)

Referencing styles

Referencing styles are the standard techniques used to cite a source. Here are a few commonly used citation styles:

·         Chicago/ Turabian

·         American Psychological Association (APA)

·         Harvard

·         Modern Language Association (MLA)

·         Vancouver

·         Institute of Electronics and Electrical Engineers (IEEE)

·         Oxford

It is important that you learn the difference between MLA and APA formats as they the most commonly used. These styles differ in their order of information, terms of paper formatting, and punctuation.

Information that should be cited

Any source of information or concepts requires to be referenced. Here are examples of sources that should be referenced:

·         Books

·         Websites

·         Magazines

·         Journal articles

·         Websites

·         Brochures

·         Interviews

·         Documentaries

·         Online discussion forums

·         Newspapers

·         A printed or digital picture of any of the sources above

Why is referencing so important?

Dissertations and research papers are not the only writing you need to reference. Essays, reports, assignments, and any other type of academic writing require referencing. Academic writing is the exhibition of concepts and information, backing them up with your understanding, findings, and arguments. You are required to use a reference style suitable to your field of study. If, for example, your paper has an APA format title page, your audience would know that your research paper is in the Social Sciences.

Evidence to back ideas

Referencing helps you support your arguments and ideas. Your audience will be more confident in your work if your findings are based or derived from expert opinion. It gives a reader the impression that you are mindful of your topic and field of study. The arguments you build in your writing are defended and proved from previous studies. This enables you to make a persuasive study of your subject.

Increases the authenticity of work

Referencing acts as a fact-checking tool. Authenticity and accuracy are highly valued in academic writing and referencing your work gives it exactly that. Your audience gets to verify your findings and arguments.

Referencing makes you a better researcher

Proper research is characterized by attention to detail and the ability to make connections and note patterns. Citation helps you develop these qualities as a researcher. Appropriate citation of sources requires you to attribute details such as names, page numbers, the title of the source, etc. correctly.  You also need to demonstrate an understanding of the facts from your sources. Developing attention to detail gives you an advantage in research especially scientific research. This is because you are needed to decide what is relevant to include in your research and do so in limited space.

Good referencing improves your writing

As a writer, you should aspire towards elegance in your writing marked by proper style. Good attribution habits will lead you towards this aim. Referencing facts and figures from our sources denies you the pleasure of intellectual laziness. Thus, you avoid falsehood, generalizations, vague ideas, and sloppiness writing in your research.

Citing your sources removes all doubt in your audience concerning your point. Citing your research makes it more engaging and will not be viewed as bland by your readers.

A good bibliography shows you are knowledgeable

A bibliography is the collection of all the sources cited in your work. Thus, a comprehensive bibliography will denote you as a well-read and informed researcher. In some instances, you may be accused of omitting well-known and critical sources available in your field. Hence make sure to be very thorough in the sources you used for research.

Exclusion of plagiarism

Acknowledging the works and contributions of others ensures academics integrity. Plagiarism is unprofessional and citing your work improves its ingenuity.


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