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IN-TEXT CITATION AND REFERENCING CHALLENGES:

A CASE OF IAA STUDENTS’ RESEARCH REPORTS

BY ADONIJAH ABAYO

Abstract

In-text citations and referencing are key competencies in all genres of academic writings. Despite their importance, students in higher learning institutions, particularly, the Institute of Accountancy Arusha (IAA) third-year students pay little attention to them when writing their research reports. This article aims at identifying the in-text citation and referencing challenges faced by third-year students; it also accounts for the existence of such challenges. The methodology used was to compare forty randomly sampled research reports against the established norms for citation and referencing. The challenges identified were: plagiarism, poor blending of citations into the text, mismatch between citations and list of references, Inconsistencies in the presentation of lists of references, incomplete citation of the website details, citation of outdated sources, inconsistencies in the citations of authors’ names and lack of reference section. Lack of clear citation and referencing guidelines/ policies by the Institute and lack of attention to these challenges by both lecturers and students were cited as the main reasons for the existence of these challenges. It is therefore recommended that guidelines for citations and referencing be developed by the Institute and great importance, through marks allocation, be attached to citation and referencing in all academic and research- based writings.

1.0Introduction

Different writing genres call for different writing styles. A research report certainly calls for a different writing style from a poem, a novel, an essay, a letter, etc. Some of the distinctive writing features of a research report include: objectivity in expression, accuracy in facts and figures, verifiability of the information given, reliability of the methods used in data collection and analysis, authenticity of the information source, honesty etc. ( Abayo, 2007). It is therefore expected that in academic writings authors acknowledge their sources of information through in-text citations and presentation of bibliographic details of the sources.

Although there are variations in the referencing styles: Harvard, American Psychological Association (APA), Modern Language Association (MLA) and Chicago, which include the order of presenting the bibliographic details, there are common features as well. These common features include: acknowledgement of the information source through in-text citation and presentation of the bibliographic details of the source in the reference/bibliography section.

The observations made by external examiners in research reports written by 3rd –year students at the Institute of Accountancy Arusha reveal that students face difficulties in handling in-text citations as well as referencing. In some cases, students fail to acknowledge the primary sources of information, which leads to plagiarism, a crime that is hardly tolerated in academic and research-based institutions.

The main objectives of this paper are to: identify the in-text citation and referencing challenges faced by students through research reports; establish the reasons for the existence of the challenges; and ascertain the practical implications of such in competencies.

This article begins by establishing the importance of citations and how citations and referencing ought to be done, this is followed by the methodology before presenting findings and practical implications, finally, a conclusion and recommendations are provided.

2.0Theoretical Perspectives

2.1Importance of In-text Citations

In-text citation is when an author makes a reference to the original source of information within the text; this is to acknowledge and credit the source. Citations exist in the form of direct quotations or paraphrases. Direct quotations involve use of the exact words by the...
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