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African Studies Library

Your one-stop-shop for all things African Studies at the University of Cambridge & beyond

Referencing guidance

Useful Resources

The following resources are available in print, or online within the Cambridge Libraries network (some may require Raven on and off campus)  There are many more helpful resources, please ask us.

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Department Referencing Advice

The Centre for African Studies does not enforce a particular referencing style, but advises that students ensure that they apply only one style throughout their written work.

Bibliographical References and Citations

The bibliography must include all material, primary and secondary, that has been cited or has substantially informed the dissertation; it should not include materials consulted that have not, in the end, been used. It should normally be divided into manuscript sources, printed sources, printed secondary works and unpublished dissertations.

We do not give precise instructions about citations in the thesis. The choice between footnotes and author-date or Harvard referencing is a pragmatic one, on which you should take advice from your supervisor, and may reflect the scholarly conventions of the discipline you are working in, particularly the extent to which your dissertation relies upon primary materials. We recommend that you consult one of the Style Guides below, and adopt one style to follow consistently. Since most Style Guides have been through numerous editions, it is always best to consult the most recent edition.

  • MHRA Style Guide: a Handbook for Authors, Editors, and Writers of Theses (London: Modern Humanities Research Association, 3rd edition, 2013). This guide is available for download:
  • Kate L. Turabian, A Manual for Writers of Term Papers, Theses, and Dissertations (Chicago and London: University of Chicago Press, 8th edition, 2013). Excellent, and good value. This is a scaled down version of The Chicago Manual (see below).
  • R. M. Ritter, The Oxford Guide to Style (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2003). This is a recent re-branding of Hart’s Rules (1893 and subsequent editions), but a bit pricey for those not intending an academic career.
  • The Chicago Manual of Style (Chicago and London: University of Chicago Press, various editions). Very comprehensive, but also expensive.

(Information provided on page 16 of the African Studies MPhil Handbook 2023-24)

Good Academic Practice

To get to grips with the ethics surrounding plagiarism, and how best to avoid it, take a look at this excellent guide: 

Copyright Advice

For advice on copyright and authorship, including terminology and an excellent set of FAQs, please see the Copyright for Researchers LibGuide 

Unpublished Cambridge Theses

Each unpublished Cambridge thesis you may come across in your research is covered by copyright, and it is only to be used for personal research.  If information from it is used in a published work then it should be referenced properly, and if it is quoted, then the author’s permission has to obtained.

If you would like to consult an unpublished Cambridge thesis, please print and complete, or email us the completed declaration form before coming to visit us.

Reference Management Software

The best way to avoid plagiarism and stay on top of your citations is by using referencing management software.

The University supports the following software packages with training:

  • EndNote (available on University MCS terminals)
  • Mendeley (free!)
  • Zotero (free!)

Watch a 10 minute video on how to use Zotero below:

Zotero Basics

Zotero Basics

The following LibGuides created by the English and Medical Libraries (Cambridge) provide helpful advice for referencing, and how to use software that is available to support you:

Please get in touch with us if you need any advice!

MPhil in African Studies Plagiarism Guidelines

Plagiarism is defined by the University in its Statement on Plagiarism as 'submitting as one's own work, irrespective of intent to deceive, that which derives in part or in its entirety from the work of others without due acknowledgement. It is both poor scholarship and a breach of academic integrity.' You can find the full statement here:

The definition embraces equally the presentation of an entire essay or thesis written by someone else and the inclusion in your work of text written by others but not properly identified as such, for example through improper use of quotation marks and citations. It also includes the use of footnotes and any other material (such as tables or graphs) obtained from secondary works that are not clearly cited as the source. 

Plagiarism is a form of cheating and treated as such by the University’s ordinances. If you are in any doubt about what constitutes plagiarism, you may also ask your graduate supervisor or Director of Studies to talk you through the issue.

All students must attend any mandatory plagiarism training sessions offered by CAS.

Library Study Skills Catalogue

Cambridge University Library Services offers an impressive range of study skills courses to Cambridge students. Please click here to see the list and do enroll yourself in one or two!

CamGuides: Managing your Study Resources - UGrad, PGrad, PhD (Scroll Down and Click!)


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