When editing academic work such as theses, journal articles and reports, I always check that all the references in the text are in the reference list, and all the references in the reference list are used in the text.
Referencing is important because it allows readers to find, read and check the original sources you found useful. Accuracy in referencing contributes to the credibility of your work.
Here’s how I do it.
- Print a hard copy of the reference list.
- Start at the beginning of the document file and scroll through it onscreen.
- For every reference, tick it off on the hard copy reference list.
- Check the spelling of the author and the date are the same in the text and the list.
- If the reference is not in the list, write the author and date on the list.
At the end, you should have a reference list with hopefully all (or most) references ticked off, and no extra references to add.
- Check errors are not due to poor spelling or incorrect dates.
- Add in references which are missing.
- Use the “find” feature to check references do not appear in the text, before deleting references not used.
Referencing software such as Endnote can help keep track, but it is still worth a final manual check. Formatting the reference list consistently with complete information is also important.