Powerbase:A Guide to Referencing
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The super-quick guide to referencing
Please ensure first that you have the following coding at the foot of any new page you create:
Without this coding, none of your references will appear on the page.
Put full information into your references, e.g. when referencing an article, include author, url (weblink), article title, publication or name of website, date of article, date accessed. Thus:
- <ref>Paul Hutcheon, '[http://www.sundayherald.com/53711 Sleaze probe into nuclear lobbying at Holyrood]', ''Sunday Herald'', 22 January 2006, accessed 12 November 2008</ref>
If a weblink exists to your source, always make your reference into a weblink by following these simple instructions: open square bracket, then url, then space, then article or web page title, close square bracket, then rest of publication info and date accessed.
For a web page, it's open square bracket, url, space, page title, close square bracket, then owner of website, then date you accessed:
- <ref>'[http://www.bloggsco.com About Us]', ''Bloggs Co website'', accessed 12 November 2008</ref>
If your source does not have a weblink (i.e. if it is not an online source), then miss out the square brackets and url. Thus:
- <ref>Paul Hutcheon, 'Sleaze probe into nuclear lobbying at Holyrood', ''Sunday Herald'', 22 January 2006</ref>
If you are referencing a long report, have a care for your reader and give a page number or range of numbers. Thus:
- <ref>Joe Bloggs, "[http://www.instituteoflongreports.com/joebloggsreport A Very Long Report], Institute of Long Reports, September 2006, p. 204, accessed 18 March 2010</ref>
Similarly when referencing books, give a page number or range of numbers, e.g. pp. 204-233.
The not-so-quick guide to referencing
If you are a student doing your thesis and are adding bits of your material to Powerbase, you may wish to ensure that even in Powerbase, you follow the accepted academic system of referencing as laid out below in the section, "Reference examples". This will enable you to transfer material with the minimum of changes to references.
What is referencing?
Referencing is when you acknowledge sources of information that you have used to write your article. When you refer to someone else’s work in your article, you are citing that work.
Why should I reference?
There are a number of reasons why you should reference the sources you use:
- To avoid plagiarism - this is when you use someone's ideas or work without acknowledgment
- To show the authority on which you base your arguments
- To enable others to find your sources
When should I reference?
You should include a reference every time you quote, paraphrase (i.e. write someone's information in your own words), summarise or gain ideas from another person's work. You should include a reference no matter what format the work takes (e.g. web page, journal article, email or diagram).
Powerbase's referencing policy
Powerbase's purpose is to expose manipulation of information and therefore we need to be extra careful in what information we use, how we use it and where we get it from. It is extremely important to provide references that are as authoritative as possible. Try to use primary materials where possible – original sources as opposed to secondary reports – and information that is up to date as possible. If the issue is very contentious, try to reference from more than once source.
Powerbase is strictly referenced. This means that every piece or set of information in an article should be accompanied by a reference or weblink to an authoritative source for that information. The link should be provided in two places: as a plain numbered reference link immediately after the sentence or paragraph containing the assertion, such as this link , and as a full citation in the References section at the end of the article. If done correctly, placing the source in the main body of the text will automatically see it listed in the references section.
Dealing with unreferenced material
- If there is a significant point in an article which is not supported by a reference contributors can:
- a) do a search to see if there is a reference for the point
- b) if not, or at least via an initial search, you can relocate the sentence or paragraph to the talk page pending further efforts to find a supporting reference.
Some basic guidelines
- In referencing websites, reference links should point directly to the relevant page on the website. It is not enough to give a link to the homepage. The aim is to make it as easy as possible for readers to verify assertions in articles.
- Consider the authoritativeness of the external website when giving a citation. For example, many Wikipedia articles are themselves poorly referenced, and so Wikipedia is not considered an authoritative source for external references.
- If you fail to provide adequate and convenient references for your article or contribution, expect it to be heavily edited down by other users or Powerbase editors, relocated to the 'talk' page pending verification, or deleted altogether. It is your job to bring your contributions up to the required referencing standard.
People will only use information from Powerbase if they feel confident that it’s well sourced and can check out the source if needed. So it’s important for authors to reference the source of each piece or set of information. See A Guide to Sourcing for more details.
With this kind of resource, it is not necessarily a strength to make it seem as if you have originated information or analysis yourself, so please be generous to your sources and give them full credit.
Referencing controversial views or information to another source is not a protection against being sued, but the more you back up your argument with well referenced material, the less chance there is of being sued. See Powerbase Libel Policy for more details.
Please reference with more than just a weblink, as many of the links in older articles are now dead and there is no further information in the article or notes regarding the source. In such cases, especially where the information quoted is controversial, anyone reading the article will simply discount the information as lacking credibility. If we give a complete set of information in the reference, then even if the weblink is dead, people will be able either to google the information in the reference and find a live link, or find a print source.
Reference primary rather than secondary sources
Reference primary rather than secondary sources for facts and quotes. If no primary source is given for a fact or quote, avoid using it. For web sources such as Sourcewatch, GMWatch, Lobbywatch, and Corporate Watch, reference the primary source given by those websites where possible. You can use analysis from those sources, but attribute the analysis to the source.
Old and new style referencing
In Powerbase you will find 2 methods of referencing: An older method of formatting which adds references to External Links and a newer method which automatically adds the reference to a references section at the bottom of the page.
Old style referencing (please do not use in new articles)
The original older format used was by (i) embedding external links in the body text or (ii) by adding references to the "External Links" section, like this:
- (i) Embedding external links in the body text
- What you put in (in the body text):
- Body text blah blah... CropLife International has six regional nodes, including [http://www.croplifeamerica.org/ CropLife America], [http://www.croplifeasia.org/ CropLife Asia] and the [http://www.ecpa.be/website/index.asp European Crop Protection Association] (ECPA). Continue body text...
- What you get:
- (ii) Adding references to an External Links section
- What you put in:
- '''External Links'''
- Paul Hutcheon, "[http://www.sundayherald.com/53711 Sleaze probe into nuclear lobbying at Holyrood]", ''Sunday Herald'', 22 January 2006.
- What you get:
- External Links
- Paul Hutcheon, "Sleaze probe into nuclear lobbying at Holyrood", Sunday Herald, 22 January 2006.
Since Powerbase was first launched, the MediaWiki software has been upgraded. One of the new features allows a slightly modified version of reference style above to be added at the relevant point in the text. In conjunction with the creation of a new section for References before the "External Links" section at the foot of the page, this automatically indexes all the references. Over time we aim to convert old article references over to the new system.
New style referencing (please use in new articles and when updating old ones)
This new method is how referencing should be done in Powerbase.
All references must be enclosed within the reference coding: <ref> ... </ref>
Insert your reference into the body text at a point that makes the source of your information clear to the reader. This may be after you quote or paraphrase from the article or web page to be referenced.
Where the source you are referencing is available online, make the title of the article or web page into a weblink. This is done by opening a set of square brackets, then pasting in the url of the article or web page, then leaving a space, then typing the title of the article or web page, then closing square brackets. Then add the rest of the publication information.
Add <ref>Paul Hutcheon, "[http://www.sundayherald.com/53711 Sleaze probe into nuclear lobbying at Holyrood]", Sunday Herald, 22 January 2006, accessed 12 November 2008</ref> at the appropriate point in the text. The appropriate point is in the body of the text you are writing.
When positioning the reference, consider: "Is it clear what information this reference is a source for?" If it's for a quote, then place it at the end of the quote. If it's for a bulk of text that has been paraphrased from a source, then it would be helpful to make reference to the source and add it there. For example:
- Paul Hutcheon, writing in the Sunday Herald <ref>Paul Hutcheon, "[http://www.sundayherald.com/53711 Sleaze probe into nuclear lobbying at Holyrood]", Sunday Herald, 22 January 2006, accessed 12 November 2008</ref>, reports that...
When saved it will look like this:
- Paul Hutcheon, writing in the Sunday Herald , reports that...
The details of the reference will automatically go to the Notes section at the foot of the page.
If you go on to refer to the source again (for example, in the next paragraph) add something along the lines of 'The report continues by stating...' This makes it clear that you are still representing Hutcheon's views, and not necessarily your own.
There are no hard and fast rules for how to do this. It will depend upon your preferred style. But once you've written your piece, give a moment's thought to readers who have no knowledge of where the information has come from and ensure that it is clear.
Check the bottom of the page to make sure there is a Reference section.
On a new page or where there is only an "External Links" section, you will need to create a new section for the references to appear.
This is done by adding Notes (enclosed in two sets of == to make the sub-heading). Then add <references/>. The Notes coding goes just above the Categories coding. So the bottom of your page should look like this:
[[Category:Category name here]][[Category:Another category name]]
What if I'm adding to a page that has references in the old format?
Add your new material using the new format. If the article is reasonably short, you could convert some or all of the other references to the new format.
If you don't have the time, that's OK. Over time we aim to convert old references to the new system.
Same reference used more than once
The first time a reference appears in the article, you can give it a simple name in the <ref> code:
- <ref name="smith">DETAILS OF REF</ref>
Subsequent times that you use the same reference in the article, you can use a shortcut instead of re-typing it:
- <ref name="smith" />
You can then use the shortcut as many times as you want. This will then display only one full reference but with the markers as < sup > 1.1< sup > etc. You can see multiple use of the same reference in action in the article Patrick Michaels.
Don't forget the /, or it will blank the rest of the article. Some symbols don't work in the ref name, but you'll find out if you use them.
What information should be included in the reference?
Each article should include a list of quoted references at the bottom, including as much information as possible about the reference as well as a weblink if possible. Please do not just provide a weblink as these change and it is then difficult to find the source unless other information is given.
There are several different referencing systems and it does not matter which you use. Regardless of the system you use, references for books and journals will generally require a selection of the following components:
- Author(s) / Editor(s)
- Title of article, research paper, talk, radio or TV programme, web page, etc.
- Publication in which article, research paper, etc. appears, e.g. book, newspaper, magazine, journal, website
- Place of publication (though this is becoming optional as the publishing world becomes less localised)
- Year of publication
- Volume number, issue number/month
- URL (weblink)
Electronic and specialist materials will have additional referencing components e.g. the URL and date accessed for websites. Please do not just provide a weblink as a reference as these change and it is difficult to find the source unless other information is given.
In the examples that follow, the non-web examples are in the Harvard referencing style. The web examples are an adaptation of this style that suits the Powerbase wiki software.
You do not have to use Harvard style but whichever style you choose, please be consistent and ensure that all the information needed is included.
Put the titles of magazines, books, journals, and newspapers in italics. Titles of articles, research papers, TV and radio programmes, and talks, go in double inverted commas.
Blaxter, E., (2006), Creating References. Glasgow, University of Strathclyde
Blaxter, E. and Wood, M., (2006), Creating References. Glasgow, University of Strathclyde
Blaxter, E. et al., (2006), Creating References. Glasgow, University of Strathclyde
Creating References (2006). Glasgow, University of Strathclyde
Blaxter, E. (ed.), (2006), Creating References. Glasgow, University of Strathclyde
Book: article or chapter in edited book
Blaxter, E., (2005), “Subject searching techniques”, in Wood, M. (ed.), Conquering the Information World, London, Hard Work Press, pp. 50-69
Blaxter, E., (2006), [http://www.netlibrary.com/bookid=26849 Creating References]. Glasgow, University of Strathclyde (accessed 30 October 2006)
Blaxter, E., (2005), “Subject searching techniques”, Journal of Library Skills, Vol. 30, No. 2, pp. 10-19
What you type:
- Blaxter, E., (2005), “[http://www.netlibrary.com/bookid=26849 Subject searching techniques”], ''Journal of Library Skills'', Vol. 30, No. 2, pp. 10-19 (accessed 30 October 2006)
What you get:
- Blaxter, E., (2005), “Subject searching techniques”, Journal of Library Skills, Vol. 30, No. 2, pp. 10-19 (accessed 30 October 2006)
“Subject searching techniques” (2005), Journal of Library Skills, Vol.30, No.2, pp. 10-19
What you type:
- Blaxter, E., (2006), "[http://www.lib.strath.ac.uk/bib.htm Creating references]", University of Strathclyde website (accessed 30 October 2006)
What you get:
- Blaxter, E., (2006), "Creating references", University of Strathclyde website (accessed 30 October 2006)
What you type:
- "[http://www.lib.strath.ac.uk/bib.htm Creating references]" (2006). University of Strathclyde website (accessed 30 October 2006)
What you get:
- "Creating references" (2006). University of Strathclyde website (accessed 30 October 2006)
Document on WWW without date
What you type:
- Blaxter, E., (undated), "[http://www.lib.strath.ac.uk/bib.htm Creating references]" (accessed 30 October 2006)
What you get:
- Blaxter, E., (undated), "Creating references" (accessed 30 October 2006)
What you type:
- "[http://www.lib.strath.ac.uk/podcast/ref.htm Getting it referenced, getting it right]" (2006), podcast radio programme, Glasgow, Andersonian Radio, 30 October (accessed 1 November 2006)
What you get:
- "Getting it referenced, getting it right" (2006), podcast radio programme, Glasgow, Andersonian Radio, 30 October (accessed 1 November 2006)
Email discussion lists
What you type:
- Blaxter, E., (2006), “[http://www.lib.strath.ac.uk/discuss_archives/2006.html Using the Harvard system]”, Library Skills discussion list, 30 October (accessed 1 November 2006)
What you get:
- Blaxter, E., (2006), “Using the Harvard system”, Library Skills discussion list, 30 October (accessed 1 November 2006)
Some articles are not attributed to publications (e.g. The Independent, The New York Times) but to wire services (e.g. Reuters, Agence France Presse, BusinessWire, PR NewsWire, etc.). Sometimes an author is also credited, but sometimes not. References are written as follows.
What you type (author given):
- Joe Bloggs, (2007), “[http://uk.reuters.com/article/latestCrisis/idUKN1036065820070710 Organic farming yields as good or better - study]”, Reuters, 10 July (accessed 14 March 2008)
What you get:
- Joe Bloggs, (2007), “Organic farming yields as good or better - study”, Reuters, 10 July (accessed 14 March 2008)
The spoken word
The Powerbase policy on sourcing from speeches given at public meetings and from telephone conversations is in the Guide to Sourcing.
Please write down and quote the speaker's actual words and keep your notes filed away. Quote the speaker's actual words: do not paraphrase as it is not accurate enough.
Reference the quote as follows:
- Speaking at the 2006 BigBio conference, Joe Bloggs said, "Transgenic contamination of organic crops is about as likely as getting pregnant from a toilet seat."<ref>Joe Bloggs, speaking at the BigBio Conference in Chicago, USA, 12-17 April 2006, witnessed by Jane Smith, who was present</ref>
If possible, add a weblink to show that Bloggs spoke at the meeting:
- Speaking at the 2006 BigBio conference, Joe Bloggs said, "Transgenic contamination of organic crops is about as likely as getting pregnant from a toilet seat."<ref>Joe Bloggs, speaking at the BigBio Conference in Chicago, USA, 12-17 April 2006, witnessed by Jane Smith, who was present. Bloggs is listed as a speaker at the BigBio Conference on the [http://www.bigbio.org BigBio website] (accessed 13 November 2008)<ref>
Some online resources require a subscription (especially trade journals). If so, make this clear in the citation:
- "Transcript to VNR Teleconference", (2005), O'Dwyers PR Daily, March 17 (sub req'd.)
However, some subscription-only articles can be found elsewhere on the web. A simple way to check for this is to search Google for the article's title, or a phrase from the article text. If so, provide a link.
What you type:
- Jonathan Leake and Dan Box, "[http://www.newstatesman.com/Ideas/200505230004 The nuclear charm offensive]", (2005), ''New Statesman'', May 23. Subscription req'd after first page view. Available without restrictions at the [http://afr.com/articles/2005/05/26/1116950813750.html Australian Financial Review].
What you get:
- Jonathan Leake and Dan Box, "The nuclear charm offensive", (2005), New Statesman, May 23. Subscription req'd after first page view. Available without restrictions at the Australian Financial Review.
Adding a country to publication references
Where the name of the publication is not well known or where there are a number of publications in different countries with the same title, consider adding where the publication you are referring to is published. For example, The Independent (UK) distinguishes it from other publications with the same title elsewhere.
Articles not available online
Earlier newspaper and magazine articles or other publications that are not readily available online for general users can still be cited.
Edition details matter
Edition details matter - often a story will be included in one edition of the same day's publication and not in another. Therefore, note the edition in your reference where available.
What you type:
- Bloggs, Joe, (2005), “Nuclear fallout 'harmless'”, ''The Biggsville Chronicle'', 1st edition, 20 July (accessed 30 October 2006)
What you get:
- Bloggs, Joe, (2005), “Nuclear fallout 'harmless'”, The Biggsville Chronicle, 1st edition, 20 July (accessed 30 October 2006)
Please avoid Latin tags in references such as "Op. cit." (work previously cited) and "Ibid." (same as preceding reference), for two reasons. One, we are writing for the general public as well as academics, and these tags can be off-putting. And two, it's very likely that articles will be added to by other authors, and they will add their own references. This could instantly make references such as "Op. cit." and "Ibid." confusing or plain incorrect.
Therefore, please repeat any reference in full each time you cite it. This may seem clumsy at first glance, but it produces the clearest results for the reader in multi-authored articles. And for the author, it's just a matter of copying and pasting, and if necessary changing a page number.
There are two things that may happen if you don't quite get the coding right.
- If you add the opening <ref> tag but don't include the "/" in the </ref> second one, when you preview or save the rest of the text on the page after the ref tag will disappear. Don't panic. Just add the "/" in the second ref tag and all will be restored.
- If, when creating the new "References" section at the foot of the page, you omit the / from the <references/> command you will get the following error message
- "Cite error 5; Invalid <references> tag; no input is allowed, use <references/>"
Again, you just need to go back and add the missing "/" and all will be fixed.
Saving copies of the original article
Often link addresses will change. Sometimes media releases will be removed from a website. Sometimes entire sites will be removed. If a reference is critical to an article and you think it might be removed later, it is worth saving a copy of the original page to your hard drive. For example, you could save it as an Acrobat pdf file complete with the original web address and the date that you saved it. While there are Internet archives, they don't catch everything.
It's important that in your references you provide weblinks to sources that are as permanent as possible. See our guide to finding permanent links to news sources.