When you are writing a piece of work and you use someone else’s thoughts, words or ideas, you must reference them. But why do we talk about referencing so much at University, and why is it so important? Why should you bother spending time on ensuring that your references are consistent, accurate and correct?
It all comes down to why we reference in the first place.
- To make your contribution clear by showing which words and ideas are yours, and which have come from your reading.
- To acknowledge the work of others and how you have built on the knowledge you’ve gained from your reading.
- To ensure that the reader can follow up on your references for themselves.
- To avoid being wrongly accused of plagiarism.
Watch our short video to find out a little more about why we should bother with referencing.
Find out more on our Managing Information skills guide.
What are the key ingredients to a successful recipe for referencing? Of all the enquiries we get in the Library, referencing is the most common.
Referencing is the acknowledgement of the sources that you use in your work. You must reference all sources that you use in your assignment, project or dissertation, including words and ideas, facts, images, videos, audio, websites, statistics, diagrams and data.
Over the next two weeks weeks we’re focusing on referencing, giving you the recipe for success. As a novice referencing baker, you might need a little help to understand the ingredients and methods for your referencing style.
We’ll tell you where to get advice and help
Understand why we reference and how
How to avoid plagiarism
How to manage your information to make your life easier and assignments less stressful, giving you the recipe for success.
Can you remember life before Google?! It is such a huge part of our lives, that even those of us who can remember a time before it (hmmm, yes I am that old!), can’t imagine life without it now. It is great place to find the latest cinema listings or who won last night’s football match, but what about finding information for your latest assignment or research?
There is a time and a place to use Google, but you need to be aware of its limitations. Google, after all, is a business. It earns the majority of its money from advertising, and it will not reveal how it ranks its search results (every wonder how Wikipedia always appears at the top of every search you do?). A search that we do today and repeat tomorrow for a piece of research could give us hugely different results, with no explanation of why. We are also often bombarded with millions of search results and the reality of our searching habits mean that we rarely look beyond the first or second page. Admittedly, advanced search features on Google and the use of Google Scholar can really help us to become a smarter and effective Google users, but is it enough for our own research? Are we finding everything that is out there?
We need to think about our information needs before we work out where it will be best for us to search. Imagine, for a moment, that we are want to buy a particular local cheese, which we love. Would we go to a general shop or would we go to a specialist deli? We are probably going to need to go to a deli. It is just the same when searching for information. Google may be great for some background information or a starting point of a project, but it may simply not give us the high quality, niche information that we need to give us top marks for an assignment. So what are the other options?
Aimee Cook, a Liaison Librarian here at Newcastle University, explains more.
So next time you think about googling something for an assignment, stop and check out Library Search and your subject guide first for the books, eBooks and specialist databases that are available to you. If you are going to use Google, make use of the advanced search features and get to grips with Google Scholar. Happy searching!
Lexis is primarily a legal database, but it also provides access to UK news from 1990 to the present day.
This resource covers national and regional newspapers, as well as broadsheets. We speak to a lot of students and academics who don’t realise that this resource covers publications such as The Times Educational Supplement and The Times Higher Education (although we now also have an institutional account for The Times Higher Education. Details of how to set up an account and access it can be found here).
For more information on what sources are covered by Lexis, simply click on ‘Sources’ section located in the top right hand corner once you are logged in. Below is a short introductory video of how to access and find information in Lexis. If you are looking for information on how to access international and historic newspapers, as well as business and TV/audio news, then check out our newspaper resources guide.
As a University student it is imperative that you arm yourself against the barrage of fake news that can be found in today’s media. To produce academically sound assignments and research, you need to be able identify and evaluate information quickly and with authority.
Here are 10 tips on how you can be a Fake News Ninja:
- Be aware: just simply knowing that not all information is created equal is the first step.
- Check the source: Where did the information come from? This can be tricky, especially on social media.
- Read more: don’t just rely on the piece of information that’s in front of you… go an find another reliable source and see if the facts are the same.
- Check the author: Do a bit of Google stalking to see if the author is credible.
- Check the references: does the item have references? What sources have they used? Are they credible?
- Check the date: watch out for re-posts old news items.
- Check your biases: You own beliefs and prejudices can have an affect on how you accept information.
- Is it a joke?: If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is!
- Ask a Librarian: Librarians are the original Fake News Ninjas. Come and ask us about any reference that you aren’t too sure about and we can help you make an authoritative decision on the information you use for your research.
- Knowledge is power: Read more about Fake News and how you can win the fight. Everything you need to know is in our Fake News Guide.
IFLA (2018) How to spot fake news. Available at: https://www.ifla.org/publications/node/11174 (Accessed: 23 March 18)
A scan of some of our “Fake or Fact?” stories this week might raise a few smiles, but as we’ve seen increasingly over the past couple of years, Fake News can have far-reaching consequences.
Hands up, who’s had the awkwardness of friends or family members reposting dubious material on Facebook? If so, you’re not alone. Apparently, according to a MIT study published this year, based on three years’ worth of Twitter meta-analysis, fake news travels up to six times faster than genuine stories. False stories were up to 70% more likely to receive a retweet – often due the novelty or shock factor.
In the sphere of politics, this can have worrying consequences. The U.S. election in late 2016 coined the term for us and is a particularly rich source of Fake news and political spin. Business Insider lists some of the most influential fake news stories to surface during this time; from false claims that WikiLeaks had proof of Clinton arms deals with ISIS, to a fictional Papal endorsement of Trump, said to have received nearly a million hits on Facebook. Only this month, the Jakarta Post reported on concerns of Fake News polluting the build-up to the Indonesian Presidential Elections next year as Facebook groups flood the country’s web spaces with doctored videos; something that has previous lead to protests in the streets of the capital.
And even when we know we might be dealing with dubious information, Fake News can continue to wield influence. Newcastle University’s own Dr. Gavin Stewart, a meta-analysis expert explains “claims with no scientific proof cast doubt over those with overwhelming evidence, leaving us at the best confused and in the worst case making totally the wrong decision.”
A strong example can be found in the now discredited research of Andrew Wakefield. Back in 1998, Wakefield drew unsubstantiated links between the MMR vaccination and childhood autism. Despite the widespread exposure of the fraudulent claims and rebuttals from the medical community, vaccination rates of the MMR vaccine dropped, and last year saw a 400% increase of measles cases across Europe.
So what does this mean for you as a current student?
The National Literacy Trust has been conducting research into pupils’ critical skills, and worryingly, has found that 35% of teachers in the UK taught pupils citing fake news and satire as legitimate sources. A fifth of pupils between 8 and 15 believe that everything found online is trustworthy and true. The antidote to this is building on one of your core graduate attributes and competencies – critical thinking. Always check out stories you’ve found online before using them in your work. Who have they come from, how partisan is that group or author? Is the material satire? What does the author stand to gain? Employers in all industries are looking for graduate with sharp reasoning skills and sound judgement. As students producing work in the current “post-truth” climate, your job is a little tougher, but you can turn this to your advantage by proving you have the skills and the smarts to outwit the Fake News racketeers.
1. Vosoughi, Roy and Aral, (2018). “The spread of true and false news online.” Science, 359: 6380, pp. 1146-1151.
2. Roberts (2016) “This is what fake news actually looks like — we ranked 11 election stories that went viral on Facebook.” Business Insider UK. November 17th
3. Pearl (2018). “Indonesia battels fake news as elections looms” Jakarta Post. 15th March http://www.thejakartapost.com/news/2018/03/15/indonesia-battles-fake-news-as-elections-loom.html
4. Newcastle university (2018) “Filtering out Fake News” 7th March. http://www.ncl.ac.uk/press/articles/latest/2018/03/fakenews/
5. Houston, (2018) “Measles back with a vengeance due to fake health news” The Irish Times. Feb 23rd. https://www.irishtimes.com/opinion/measles-back-with-a-vengeance-due-to-fake-health-news-1.3401960
6. National Literacy Trust (2018). “Commission on Fake News and the Teaching of Critical Literacy Skills in Schools” https://literacytrust.org.uk/policy-and-campaigns/all-party-parliamentary-group-literacy/fakenews/
Fake News is nothing new and has been going on since time began!
With the introduction of mass news with the invention of the printing press, and the massive up-rise in news being created and fed via social media, the growth of the term ‘Fake News’ and the actual production of Fake News stories has grown exponentially in recent years:
- The term ‘Fake News’ is searched for in web browsers 70.8-118 thousand times a month.
- #fakenews has over 251.2k mentions on Twitter
- In 2017 Donald Trump mentioned the term ‘Fake News’ in public correspondence, 320 times!
Not only has the volume of Fake News grown, but also the speed that it spreads. However, maybe there is a way we can slow it down:
Kiely, E. (2018) Trump’s Phony ‘Fake News’ Claims. Available at: https://www.factcheck.org/2018/01/trumps-phony-fake-news-claims/. Accessed: 23 March 2018).
Smith, R. (2017) The Numbers Behind Fake News. Available at: http://www.dailyinfographic.com/numbers-behind-fake-news. (Accessed: 23 March 2018).
Many of you are busy writing your dissertation right now, in the depths of your Masters project or wrestling with your PhD. If you are looking for ideas then look no further than our Theses and Dissertations Guide.
There are many reasons why you would use other theses and dissertations for your studies:
- Has anyone else done a thesis or dissertation on my topic? If so…
- How similar is it to my research question? Do I need to change my question slightly?
- What references/citations did they use? Check them out, they might have used some good references that can help you.
- Can you use this theses/dissertation as a reference for your research?
- Inspiration! Maybe you have a vague idea what your research question is, but you want to see what’s been done already.
Our Theses and Dissertations Guide tells you what print and electronic theses NU Library holds, where to find international theses and signposts you to further information on theses/dissertation production.
The Images topic guide gives you plenty of help with how to find images and how you can use them in a responsible manner – being aware of Copyright laws and how to reference your images.