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History and Philosophy of Science: Referencing Guide

Referencing style

The Department of History and Philosophy of Science does not prescribe a particular referencing style for you to follow in your written work, but it's important that you organise and present your references consistently.

Poor quality referencing is readily picked up by examiners, and will almost certainly lose you marks!

Read previous HPS examiners' reports


Quick links to popular referencing styles

Referencing tools

Many people use software to help them gather, store and eventually publish their references. Examples of packages used in Cambridge include:

Need more help choosing a referencing software package? Library staff will be happy to help.

What are my options?

There are many style guides out there reflecting the different ways you can 'reference' other pieces of work when writing your own.

The choice is yours, but as there are different conventions in historical and philosophical writing, it's worth spending some time looking at the styles the authors you're reading use, and work out what will work best for you. As well as showing you've understood the material you've read and incorporated the ideas into your own work (with due acknowledgement - part of the function of the reference), you need to demonstrate that you're familiar with the way people communicate in your chosen area, and can use the tools of the trade.

Some things to think about:

If you're working to a tight word limit choose a concise style that won't add unnecessarily to your word count.

Author-date systems are popular. These place a bracket containing an author's surname and the date of the publication referred to in the main text so you don't need a separate footnote, e.g.(Secord, 2014). The full reference to the work is then given in the bibliography at the end of the essay/article/dissertation.

Popular examples of systems with author-date provision include:

What kind of material will you need to reference?

All schemes provide formulae for referencing standard material such as monographs, book chapters, journal articles, manuscript archives, etc. But if you are using a lot of different media in your work (e.g. blogs, newspaper articles, open access articles), make sure to use a style that references these well.

Remember: Always make a note of the date you accessed an online resource, and include the date in your reference, e.g.

Jardine, Boris. 2015. "Britain's most important historic laboratory is under threat." Accessed 6 September 2015.

If in any doubt, CIte Them Right is a useful resource the University subscribes to.

Why reference?

Referencing serves two important functions:

  1. to acknowledge the ideas originating elsewhere that you've used in your own work - failure to do this constitutes plagiarism
  2. to enable the reader to find the sources you've used and follow up particular ideas in more detail.

Department of HPS guidelines on plagiarism.

To find out more about the University of Cambridge's view on plagiarism and good academic practice, as well as further advice on how and when to reference, visit these guidance pages.

There is also an entire Libguide devoted to plagiarism.

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