In the United Kingdom, referencing plays a very important part of higher education. Students are not judged on their own ideas but on the quality of their research, reading, and the ability to establish a discussion to answer a specific question. If they use someone else’s idea in their assignment (by using their own words or making a quotation), they must cite and reference the source. Foreign students who come studying in Britain may be surprised by this working method. The importance of citation and referencing in all academic submission will be discussed in the first part of this essay. Then, the essential characteristics of the Harvard system of referencing will be described.
The main reason for referencing is to avoid plagiarism. Northedge (2005) defines plagiarism as the act of using somebody else’s words as your own, without acknowledgement. Indeed, in the academic environment, if students do not give credit to the original source while they reformulate the idea of another person, it is seen as a form of cheating. Referencing is anchored in the culture of the United Kingdom: it is as important in an academic as in a social or a political context. Hampden, Turner and Trompenaars (2000), cited by Neville (2010) demonstrate that in individualistic cultures (such as Britain), copyrights are more respected than in countries characterized by collectivism. Ideas and words, as Bailey (2011, p25) explains, are seen as a “private property belonging to the person who first wrote them”. In other words, cite and reference the work of a person is a form of acknowledgement and respect for his work. Citations and referencing are not used merely to avoid plagiarism. They also guarantee the authority of an argument (Neville 2010). When referencing is correctly done, it proves to the reader that the student has read widely on a topic and is knowledgeable about it. Moreover, referencing allows readers to develop their own knowledge. Indeed, they can easily refer to the...
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