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The Harvard System of Referencing: Guidelines for Students

Why are references important?

The Harvard system of referencing is the most commonly used and determines the manner in which students are to set out references and bibliographies. It is essential that students acknowledge all of the sources they have used as it:

(a)proves that the work has a factual basis;
(b)allows the reader to identify and retrieve the sources for their own use; and
(c)shows the research the student has undertaken to reach the conclusions.

Wherever you quote (that is, copy directly from another author) or use their ideas (paraphrase), you must acknowledge that you have done so and you are required to use the Harvard System throughout your work. Failure to acknowledge your sources of information may result in your facing charges of plagiarism which may result in disciplinary action. 

Citations in text

Citations in the text direct readers to the referenced list at the end of the text. The author’s surname, year of publication and page number(s), if appropriate, should appear in the text. 

There are a number of different ways in which citations can be included:

(a)If the author’s name does not form part of the statement in the text, then the name, date and page number(s) should be put in brackets.


There is evidence (Edworthy, 1990, p. 23) that ‘the main cause of stress in teaching is rapid change’.

(b)If the author’s name forms part of the statement, put the date and page number(s) in brackets.


Edworthy (1990, p. 23) cited evidence that ‘the main cause of stress in teaching is rapid change’.

(c)If there are two authors, the surnames, separated by ‘and’, should be given before the date.


Edworthy and Jones (1990, p. 64) proved that ‘the main cause of stress in teaching is rapid change’.


It has been proven (Edworthy and Jones, 1990, p. 64) that ‘the main cause of stress in teaching is rapid change’.

(d)If there are between three and five authors, the first time you cite them in the text you should give all surnames (in the order found on the title of the book), separating the names of the authors with commas, and the last comma will be followed by ‘and’.


Edworthy, Evans and Smith (1990) have made various claims that we each cause our own stress.

It has been claimed (Edworthy, Evans and Smith, 1990) that we each cause our own stress.

Subsequent references should be in abbreviated form, that is, the surname of the first author followed by ‘et al’.

Types of citations in the Harvard system


Edworthy et al (1990) have provided a range of evidence to show that we each cause our own stress.

(e)Where there are six or more authors, you should give only the first author’s surname followed by ‘et al’.

(f)When citing the work of one author found in the work of another, you should acknowledge that you did not consult the original source.


Supporting evidence appears in a study by Cox (1989, cited in Edworthy and Jones, 1990, p. 64).

‘Cited in’ indicates that you are referring to Cox’s study as found in a book by Edworthy and Jones. NB. 

(g)For works published in the same year and by the same author, suffixes ‘a’, ‘b’, etc. are added to the year. Both the date and letter are used in citing the source. NB. Remember to use the date and the letter when including the reference in your bibliography.


Edworthy (1990a, p. 23) has provided evidence that ‘the main cause of stress in teaching is rapid change’.

It has been shown by Edworthy (1990b, p. 47) that when asked to rate their work performance, part-time and temporary workers were ‘much less likely than full-timers to rate themselves above average’.

(h)To cite a website with a known author, use only the name of the author followed by the year the page that the web page/online document was produced/updated. If this date is not shown, the date of access should be used. If there is no author use the name of the organisation.


Jones (2001) says abacavir may be taken more than twice a day.
..(Training Wales, 2001)....

(i)    When paraphrasing the views of a number of authors/sources in one sentence/paragraph, the surnames and years of publication should be provided in brackets, in alphabetical order, separated by semi-colons.


Evidence seems to suggest that stress is more prevalent amongst part-time workers than full-time workers (Cox, 1989; Edworthy & Jones, 1990; Weber, 1988). 


What Punctuations to Use

In the majority of cases, you will need to use single inverted commas (‘ ) for a quotation. For example, you might make reference to Marx’s point that ‘religion is the opiate of the people’. Never italicise quotations (unless italics are found in the original quote or unless you are quoting stage directions in a play.

Additional marks are needed when you are quoting dialogue, or whenever you are quoting a sentence that includes a quote within it. On these occasions, use single inverted commas for the quote as a whole, and double inverted commas (“) for the inner quotation or dialogue. So, for example, you might quote Thomas Watson’s point that ‘when a proprietor gives up manual labour he soon becomes a “born master”’.

Introducing and Concluding Quotations

Never include a quotation in an essay without introducing it. You need to lead your examiners smoothly into a quotation, allowing them time to make the transition from your own words to those of others. Never simply cast a quote into your argument. If you are quoting from an academic book, for example, always include a phrase like ‘As Raymond Williams argues’, or ‘Fredric Jameson has written that’, or ‘As Mary Wollstonecraft once stated’. 

At the end of the quoted sentence or passage, always ensure that you place punctuation outside the inverted commas; that is, the comma or full stop that follows the quotation should not fall inside the quotation marks (as typically it will not be in the original passage).

When to Indent

If a quotation is only a sentence (or two short sentences) include that quotation in the continuous body of the text; if the quotation is longer then you need to indent it. 


Beardwell and Holden (2001, p. 105) describe peripheral workers as those who ‘will supply skills that are easily obtainable in the external labour market, and their co-operation in the production process is not critical to organisational performance’.


The first and primary workgroup are usually associated with firm-specific skills and so represent the most valued workers to the organisation. Beardwell and Holden (2001, p. 105) make the point that: 

The key supposition of the flexible firm concept is that the firm becomes much more responsive to changes in its product markets if the workforce is structured into two main groups. The size and composition of the core will depend on organisational decisions on work organisation and the design of jobs, since core worker status applies mainly to those supplying firm specific skills. 

NB: For an indented quotation you do not include quotation marks (unless it is dialogue). Also note that you leave a gap of a line before and after the indented quote.

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