Referencing is how you give credit when you use material or ideas that are not your own.

References establish the credibility and transparency of your work. They demonstrate that you have spent time finding, reading and thinking critically about material.

Referencing your sources helps your reader:

  • recognise instances where you have used another person’s work
  • locate for themselves the source material used
  • check, if necessary, the evidence on which your work is based
  • If you do not give credit to your sources by referencing them you are plagiarising. Plagiarism is passing off somebody else’s work or ideas as your own. The only way to avoid plagiarism is to correctly acknowledge every instance where you have used the work of others. Plagiarism is a serious academic offence.

    Citing your own work is perfectly fine if you think it is justified. Self plagiarism, however, occurs when you re-submit material without reference to the fact that it has already been graded as part of a previous assignment. To prevent this taking place, each piece of work should be presented as a standalone item for assessment.

    There are many referencing styles. Harvard referencing is the style used at IMI.

    Harvard referencing is a citation style in which citations are put within parentheses in the text, either within or after a sentence. The citations are accompanied by a full, alphabetized bibliography at the end section.

    A sample style guide is available here.

    Referring to your sources in the main body of your text requires the use of in-text citations. In-text citations appear in parentheses and include basic details about your source:

  • Name of author or organisation
  • Year of publication, followed by a comma
  • Page number where possible
  • A generic in-text citation looks like this:

    (Author, Year, p. x)

    Direct quotation
    A direct quotation is one in which you copy an author’s words directly from the original source and use that exact wording in the main body of your text. In this case, the format mentioned above applies with the inclusion of quotation marks around the copied portion of text.

    Management is a ‘set of processes that can keep a complicated system of people and technology running smoothly’ (Kotter, 1996, p. 25).

    Indirect quotation
    You do not copy the original source word for word; instead you capture its meaning using your own words. However, you must still cite your source of information. In this case, the format mentioned above applies with the exclusion of quotation marks.

    Eisenstat (1989, p. 10) describes how John believes that change cannot occur through negative feedback. By only providing positive feedback, employees may feel better about themselves but this does not provide personal development.

    When using direct or indirect quotations, It is entirely your decision whether to position the in-text citation at the start or end of the sentence, just be consistent throughout and ensure that the use of the citation does not disrupt the logical flow of your writing.

    Your bibliography is an extension of each of your in-text citations. Your reader can use your bibliography to verify and locate your source material.
    A bibliography must be arranged entirely in alphabetical order by surname. It is important to only include sources actually referred to in the main body of text in a bibliography. If you have not used material in the main body, this material does not belong in the bibliography.
    Different source types are represented differently in a bibliography. For example, the information you need to identify and find a book is different to the information you need to identify and find a podcast. The following are examples of the most commonly used sources:

    Example of a printed book:

    • Kotter, J. (1996) Leading change. Boston: Harvard Business School Press.

    Example of an online journal:

    • Porter, M. (2008) ‘The five competitive forces that shape strategy’, Harvard Business Review, 86(1), pp. 78-93.

    Example of a webpage:

    • Brown, J. (2012) Social media will play a crucial role in the reinvention of business. Available at: http://blogs.hbr.org/cs/2012/11/social_media_will_play_a_crucial_role_in.html (Accessed: 17 May 2013).

    Example of tutor’s notes:

    • Murphy, D. (2014) ‘Leading strategic change’. Module 6: implementing strategic change.