Tag Archives: Referencing

How to check your own reference list

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.

What to include in a list of references

There are many different styles for referencing material used in a publication, and for formatting reference lists. Some organisations, such as publishers, universities or government departments, have their own preferred style. Just remember the reason for including a list of references in your work is so your readers can find, read and check the original source that you found useful.

Make sure you include all the relevant details that will help someone find the same material you did.

  • For websites, include the date accessed, as information can change over time as the website is updated.
  • For books, include the edition of the book.
  • For books, include the publisher and place of publication.
  • For journal articles, include the volume number, issue number and page numbers.

If a reference is freely available on a public website, it’s helpful to include the web address of the reference (either the main site or the full location) so readers can easily access the material.