This general guidance for referencing is intended to be used by undergraduate students at the University of Exeter. These notes should be used in conjunction with the Exeter guide for the referencing style you have been asked to use (e.g. Chicago, MLA, Vancouver, etc.).
You will come across many different styles of referencing while reading at university. The advice provided in the referencing guidance documents is designed to make it clear how to use each style when writing.
The guidance is provided to help you with your academic work only. If you are writing for publication, you will need to adhere to the referencing style of that specific publisher.
Referencing correctly is an essential academic skill. You are required to refer to the sources you use when producing written assignments at university. There are several reasons for this.
When quoting directly from a published source.
When summarising or paraphrasing ideas from a published source.
When paraphrasing a definition found on a website even if no writer, editor or author’s name is shown.
When using data or statistics, photographs or other images that are freely available from a book, journal article or publicly accessible website.
(Adapted from Neville (2008) http://www.learnhigher.ac.uk/writing-for-university/referencing/referencing-exercises/)
When writing at university you will use information from a range of different sources. Your tutors will direct you to some but others you will have to find for yourself. You need to select these sources carefully and acknowledge them in your work by providing in-text citations and a reference list, or in some disciplines, footnotes and a bibliography.
You need to evaluate your sources to assess their reliability, authority and validity before you decide to use them. As a general rule, you should not refer to sources such as book reviews, Wikipedia or lecture notes in your work. Do not use or refer to essays that you have found online as these may come from ‘essay mills’ and are therefore not reliable sources. For further guidance on evaluating sources, take a look at the Evaluating Sources LibGuide Tutorial.
Engaging with a broad range of resources will ensure that you gain a comprehensive knowledge of the topic and show that you are willing to research widely. Different sources contain different kinds of information and present different perspectives. For example, journal articles are likely to be more specialist than a general text book. Your reference list will enable you to demonstrate:
How extensively you have engaged with the topic.
Your awareness of current research and thinking.
That your writing is evidence-based and does not rely on personal opinion.
Knowing how to cite and reference is an essential academic skill. Knowing how and when to integrate literature by quoting, paraphrasing and summarising is part of this key skill.
Quotations, which should be succinct, generally use double quotation marks (“quotation”). The source should be cited and a page number provided. Any alterations to the original text should be indicated by using the following conventions.
Paraphrasing and summarising are employed when it is preferable to use your own words to refer to source material. Both require a citation to be provided. In some disciplines, paraphrasing and summarising are the preferred means of integrating sources into your writing as it enables the writer to demonstrate their understanding.
It is your responsibility to familiarise yourself with the norms and conventions of your discipline for integrating sources. Note that in-text citations and /or your reference list may contribute towards the word count for an assignment. Check with your module leader if you are not sure.
A DOI is a unique alpha numeric string that provides a permanent link to the document’s location online. You can often find the DOI on the title page of the journal article.
Use the Digital Object Identifier (DOI) if the source has one – it is preferable to a URL as it never changes; because of this you do not need to include a retrieval date for a reference that has a DOI (but check the rules of the style you are using just to make sure of the conventions of the style).
Use the URL for sources that have no DOI and give the retrieval date (some styles such as APA don’t require a retrieval date, but you are advised to include one for a source that is not in a fixed, non-editable format).
CrossRef.org is a website that allows you to check whether a source has its own DOI and has a tool for locating a source that does have a DOI. You can turn a DOI into a URL by appending the DOI to http://dx.doi.org
Other styles are used within the University - use the online University Referencing Guide for full information
OSCOLA (The Oxford University Standard for Citation of Legal Authorities) was developed to facilitate accurate citation of authorities, legislation, and other legal materials. It is widely used in law schools and by journal and book publishers in the UK and beyond. OSCOLA is edited by the Oxford Law Faculty, in consultation with the OSCOLA Editorial Advisory Board.
You can download and use:
Full 4th edition of OSCOLA to help you format your references
FAQs for material types not covered in 4th ed. Includes:
A source cited in a secondary source
A judgment citing another judgment
Podcasts, YouTube etc
OSCOLA Quick Reference guide, for commonly used legal materials
OSCOLA Citing International Law guide
Additional guidance on citing foreign or international materials can be found in the online Guide to Foreign and International Legal Citations produced by the New York University School of Law.
At first, legal citations can seem daunting. Take advantage of the wealth of support material that is available online to help you build your skills and confidence.
Numerous other guides are available. Here is a selection of our favourites, which include plenty of worked examples so you can see how to cite in practice:
Referencing: law resources produced by Southampton Solent University
The University of South Wales Guide to OSCOLA Referencing- both provide lots of helpful guidance and examples to assist students with OSCOLA.
Finch and Fafinski, who author a number of student friendly legal skills materials, also provide a free downloadable guide to answer some common referencing queries and introduce you to the basics of OSCOLA referencing for legal materials.
If you wish to use Endnote, to manage your references you will need to import the OSCOLA style as it is not a standard style for Endnote. Full guidance is given on Oxford Law's OSCOLA support pages.
You need to import the OSCOLA endnote style (.ens file) and the OSCOLA RefTypeTable (.xml file) to your Endnote program.
You can opt to import some additional useful files:
A sample library (useful to check you are formatting your references properly)
A Journals List terms (useful for provising standard abbreviations for your journal citations)
Direct Import of references to Endnote
Unfortunately, no databases currently export cases or legislation direct to Endnote, all need to be added as manual references. Refer to the OSCOLA style guide and sample library to help you create your own references.
However, materials such as legal articles, books, papers etc. can be downloaded to your Endnote Library from a variety of databases such as ISI Web of Science, JSTOR, Google Scholar etc.
As for Legal Databases, LexisLibrary has no direct import filter. You can download journal references only from Westlaw and Hein Online but you will need to check and edit your imported references as full and correct information is not always transferred. For example author, volume and/or issue details are sometimes missing. Use the OSCOLA guide and sample library to edit your references.
Hein Online User Guide Use Hein's bookmark function to export to Endnote. Note that you do not need to create a MyHein account if you only wish to download your bookmarks during your current search session and then transfer them to Endnote. If you wish to retain bookmarks between sessions you should set up an account.
LATEK, REFWORKS & ZOTERO
These bibliographic software packages will also work to help legal scholars format cases, legislation, articles and books in compliance with the OSCOLA standard.
More information and guidance materials are available on the OSCOLA website