Referencing Works

In my musings about Related works: when do you read ‘too much’? some two months ago, I intentionally gave a few ‘exemplary cases’ of how not to cite material, but I did not mention how, then, one is supposed to cite material properly. As the honours students are working on their thesis proposal and the mini-projects for the Ontologies & Knowledge Bases course I teach (indeed, it is intended to give practice in doing a project before the real thing later in the university year), I have prepared a first version of a document on referencing related works, as there was nothing about that yet for our computer science students. The latest version of ReferencingWorks is available online (suggestions for improvement welcome).

Aside from describing the usual basics about how to reference material in the text, plagiarism, quoting, paraphrasing, referencing, and what you normally can and cannot cite, the major difference with other material on this topic is probably the section on how to manage references. Unlike other material online, in particular the many referencing style guides that tell you ‘style x requires you to put a book title in italics, a journal paper volume number in bold’ etc. etc., I did not waste time and space on such tedious things. One would have to be crazy to read through all those guidelines and adapt one’s references each time another style has to be followed, not to mention manually fiddling with the in-text notation. Scientists and software developers got together, and developed reference management software to do this for you. Put differently: we can get that sorted out automatically.

Basically, you store your references in a fancy database and each time you use a reference, you insert its key in the text. Once ready, the used keys, your text editor, and your selected style get together and produce the right amount of references in the right format in the right order—automatically. That is: use bibtex. To be sure, I mention other referencing software as well, like Mendeley and EndNote—but, I admit, only because I know it is known that people like the feeling of having the impression they have a choice. So the students can choose whichever way they like, even the hard way by managing the references manually, as long as the references are correctly referenced in the text, and are complete and consistently referenced in the references section.

One response to “Referencing Works

  1. Pingback: Managing your BSc honours Project « Keet blog

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