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Using the work of others

Pay attention to how your discipline refers to the work of others.

As you read, collect the phrasing people use when referring to other sources. Start using them in your own work.

Look at these two samples using the referencing style used in the Arts faculty, in the School of Humanities, Communications and Social Sciences. Unlike other faculties, the preference here is to supply a page number for every citation.

Consider Sample A. How does this student refer to the work of others?

Sample A: Referring to the work of others

According to Doring et al (1997:1), more and more, universities recognise transition to be extremely important, and have linked success in transition with future success at university. According to McInnes and James (1995:29), transition is easier for some than it is for others, and differs according to individual background, expectations, skills, and experiences. According to Tarzimi et al (1996:452), many new students discover university to be a significantly different world to the one they expected or were used to.

This student uses the work of three sets of authors to discuss the topic of transition. Notice how boring this repetitive phrasing is? According to…, according to…, according to…

Now look at Sample B.

Sample B: Integrating the work of others

More and more, universities recognise transition to be extremely important, and have linked success in transition with future success at university (Doring et al. 1997:1). Many new students discover university to be a significantly different world to the one they expected or were used to (Tarzimi et al. 1996:452). In their study of transition, McInnes and James (1995:29) found transition is easier for some than it is for others, and differs according to individual background, expectations, skills, and experiences.

You will note that the sentence has been changed somewhat to improve coherence. In this case, the student is driving the discussion, making her point that universities now deal with transition. She then goes on to explain the impact of transition, supporting her observation with a study.

The study of McInnes and James is highlighted in the sentence in order to emphasise to the reader that evidence exists. The other two citations, however, have been used to support her point and to give it authority.

Using et al

Note that et al means and others. This abbreviation is used for citations where there are three or more authors. Remember, though, that the first time you cite a source with three or more authors, you must provide all names- thereafter, you can use et al. You may also see that when et al appears in brackets, as in sample B, a full stop is added to the end whereas, when it is part of the sentence, as in sample A, there is no fullstop included.

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