What is Referencing? Why is it Important?

By Editorial Team Last updated: Oct 11, 2023

What is Referencing? Why is it Important?

If you are in college, one of the biggest mistakes that you can make is academic dishonesty, commonly referred to as plagiarism. You are not allowed to copy and paste the concepts, reports, figures, or data from any source and present them as your own. Even if such info is correct, it is unethical and can attract severe penalties. This is why you need to use referencing methods such as APA works cited or references. In this post, we will delve deeper into referencing to help you understand works cited and bibliography methods. We will contrast bibliography vs works cited and outline key examples for you.

Before getting into the mechanics and difference between works cited and bibliography, it is important to start by gaining insights into why referencing is so crucial in academic work.

When writing a research paper, essay, report, thesis, or any other type of academic work, your arguments build on those of other researchers, teachers, and writers. It is crucial to credit the source of your ideas, data, or information by directing the reader to the source of the work. This is called referencing. From this notion, referencing your work (crediting the source) serves several purposes:

  • Distinguish your ideas from those who have done similar works.

  • Allow readers to follow in greater detail what you have discussed in the essay.

  • Demonstrate your succinctness in research. Good referencing is likely to win you more points.

The two most used forms of referencing are the works cited and bibliography.

Works Cited and Bibliography

Although works cited and bibliography look similar, because they have entries arranged alphabetically, they are different. If you take a closer look, it will dawn on you that the difference mainly lies in what they contain.

Related: What is the Difference Between Bibliography and Works Cited

A bibliography is located at the end of your academic essay/ report and contains all works cited in an essay or report. However, it may also include additional works that were consulted by the author even if such works have not been mentioned in the essay. In most cases, authors add the sources they feel are significant to the target readers.

Like the bibliography, the works cited is a list of the sources that you used when writing an essay. However, it differs from the bibliography in that every reference that is cited in the text of your essay must appear in the reference list. If you used some materials and it is not featured in the text, it will not be included in the works cited.

Preparing Works Cited and Bibliography Correctly

Now that you know the difference between works cited and bibliography, it is time to move to the next step: “How do you prepare them?”

The secret to writing good works cited or bibliography of your paper is gathering the necessary information as you read. Here is the information that you should capture:

  • Title of the book, article, or the publication you are reading.

  • Date of the publication.

  • The author of the publication. If they are many, make sure to note all of them.

  • In the case of a book, you need the place of publication and the publisher.

  • For journals, you need the volume and page numbers.

  • If you are using web sources such as websites, you need the author, title of the site, company that owns the site, website address (URL), and the date you accessed it.

To further demonstrate the differences and similarities of works cited and bibliography, have a look at the samples below. Note that the references are used for demonstration purposes.

Example 1: a bibliography (all the resources here must appear in the text of the essay/paper).

Banerjee, A. and Watson, T.F. (2011) Pickard’s manual of operative dentistry. 9th ed. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

Lucas, G. (2004) The wonders of the Universe. 2nd ed. Edited by Frederick Jones, James Smith, and Tony Bradley. London: Smiths.

Hislop, V. (2014) The sunrise. Available at http://www.amazon.co.uk/kindlestore (Accessed: 17 June 2017).

Example 2: a bibliography (this list includes resources that are cited in the text of the essay as well as those that were used but are not cited)

The University of Birmingham (2010) The University of Birmingham experience. Available at: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YLxV5L6IaFA (Accessed: 18 June 2015).

Center for Disease Control and Prevention (1994) Epi Info (Version 6) [Computer program]. Available at http://www.cdcp.com/download.html (Accessed: 23 June 2015).

Peart, N. (1976) Something for Nothing. Toronto: Toronto Sound Studios.

Jones, B., (1997) Methods in tumor research. National Agency for Tumour Research, volume. 7.

Which Is Better Between Works Cited and Bibliography?

Every time that college students evaluate bibliography vs works cited references, the question of what is better always comes up. In reality, there is no method that is superior to another. The method that you should use for referencing your essay is determined by your college. Your department might require students to use bibliography MLA format, bibliography Harvard format, or APA works cited referencing styles. Make sure to check carefully and strictly adhere to the recommended method.

Is Referencing Overwhelming To You? Its Simplel!

Every moment that your trainer requires you to write an academic essay, research paper, or thesis, it is essential to adhere to the recommended writing style strictly. This post has demystified bibliography vs works cited referencing to make the process easy.

Notably, learning how to prepare the works cited or bibliography properly might take time. In other cases, you might have a tight deadline or other appointments to attend. No matter the reasons for making it difficult for you to write a good APA works cited or references, you can always seek affordable writing help from experts.

Our team of writing professionals understand how to prepare references no matter your preferred formats. This is a great way to ensure you get it right on referencing. No hustles at all!

Read more: Why citing is important

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