Thursday, 13 November 2014

Secondary referencing

I’ve been getting loads of queries about secondary referencing recently; this is where you want to reference something that the book or journal article you are reading has referenced…so you’ve not read the original source, you’ve found it quoted or paraphrased in something else, but it’s really useful or relevant so you still want to use it.

We’ve got guidance on how to do this on our referencing webpages. However, it’s not considered good academic practice to do lots of secondary referencing in a piece of work. Ideally you should be going to the reference list at the end of the book or article you’re reading, working out what the original source is, then tracking it down, reading it yourself, and then referencing that, not the item in which it is referenced. There may of course be times when you cannot locate the original source – maybe because it’s out of print, or we don’t have a copy and you can't get hold of one elsewhere – in which case it is OK to use secondary referencing. Try not to do too much of it though; your work should reflect your ability to locate appropriate sources and to compare and apply arguments yourself.

If you want any help with tracking down original sources, finding things for your work, or referencing, come into the Library and ask, or send me an email.

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