Information on the web
Information on the web

This free course is available to start right now. Review the full course description and key learning outcomes and create an account and enrol if you want a free statement of participation.

Free course

Information on the web

2.7 How to reference sources

You have seen how easy it is to find what what you want on the Web. When you quote any information or use any images that you have not written or created yourself it is important to ensure that you reference the source of the quote or image. This is to show that you are not trying to pass off someone else's work as your own, and to enable your reader, should they wish, to access the source of that quote.

2.7.1 How to cite sources of information

The reader may want to to access the source of the quote to see the its context or to explore further the ideas contained in the quote. The reference should provide all the information that the reader needs to find the source.

In this course we are going to show you the Harvard system, a common method of referencing quotes. There are other ways to reference that are equally acceptable and you may already be aware of these or come across them in the future.

A reference has two parts: the first immediately follows the quotation and the second part is in a bibliography at the end of the article or essay. The reference in the text is a short form that doesn't clutter up the main text, and the bibliography provides the full source details.

2.7.2 First part of a reference – following the quote or image

This part of the reference consists of just the author's name and the year of publication. These are placed in brackets after the quotation e.g. (Bennett, 2004).

For some material, especially images and web pages, it isn't possible to identify the author or publication date. In these cases you may be able to attribute an organisation or publisher, either by name or by using a URL. For online material, give the date you accessed it; for example (www.awf.org, 16 March 2004).

If you find you have used more than one work by the same author, add a letter to distinguish them; for example (Bennett, 2004a; Bennett, 2004b). For web resources, give more of the URL.

2.7.3 Second part of a reference – the bibliography

The bibliography contains full details of the source. The entries are listed in alphabetical order of author.

There are several types of source that you may be referencing so I have given an example for each.

A book

Naughton, J. (1999) A Brief History of the Future, London, Phoenix.

You should include:

  • Author's (or editor's) last name and initials;

  • year of publication (in brackets);

  • title (in italics);

  • place of publication;

  • publisher.

A web page

Alexander, G. On-line Collaborative Learning, [online] Available from: http://sustainability.open.ac.uk/gary/pages/oclearn.htm [Accessed 10 Oct 2006]

You should include:

  • Author's last name and initials (or name or URL of publishing site);

  • title;

  • 'online' in square brackets;

  • 'available from' information such as the URL;

  • the date you accessed the site in square brackets.

An image from a web page

Baby gorilla [online image]. Available from www.awf.org/images/wallpaper/babygorilla1 [Accessed 20 Oct 2006]

You should include:

  • The title of the image, or a description;

  • URL;

  • in square brackets, the date you accessed the site.

An image from a clip art collection

Bitfolio Edition 7 [Clipart Collection CD], [no date]. Distributor: Management Graphics Ltd, Reading, Berkshire.

You should include:

  • Author (if given);

  • title (in italics);

  • form, e.g. Clipart Collection CD (in square brackets);

  • date (if given);

  • availability, e.g. distributor, address.

A conference or email message

ejb7@tutor.open.ac.uk, 26th March 04, University Choices, Conference message to misc.education.adult

You should include:

  • Author's email address;

  • full date of message;

  • subject of message (in italics);

  • 'email to' or 'conference message to' followed by the recipient's name, or conference name.

Activity 20

Having read how to cite sources of information, which covered books, web pages, conference messages and images, please try the quiz in the next section.

T180_5

Take your learning further

Making the decision to study can be a big step, which is why you'll want a trusted University. The Open University has 50 years’ experience delivering flexible learning and 170,000 students are studying with us right now. Take a look at all Open University courses.

If you are new to university level study, find out more about the types of qualifications we offer, including our entry level Access courses and Certificates.

Not ready for University study then browse over 900 free courses on OpenLearn and sign up to our newsletter to hear about new free courses as they are released.

Every year, thousands of students decide to study with The Open University. With over 120 qualifications, we’ve got the right course for you.

Request an Open University prospectus