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Most of us learn the hard way that it's important to reference our sources carefully and accurately. Reading a hastily scribbled note or a carefully typed extract and trying to remember where on earth it came from is one of the great frustrations that teaches the necessity for referencing.

The OU teaches the Harvard method. For this, referencing is in two parts: the in text reference and the bibliography at the end. For example, if I was including a passage from a book called ‘A Social History of Education in England’, it would be like this:

Lawson and Silver state that ‘most schools drew their pupils from the immediate neighbourhood, and those who lived beyond walking or pony-riding distance, would perforce have to board – with the master, or with kinsfolk, or with other families in the town’ (Lawson and Silver, 1973, p115).

[That’s the in text reference – authors’ names, date of publication, page number]. At the end of the document I would have a list of all the publications referenced and this one would look like this:

Lawson, J. and Silver, H. (1973) A Social History of Education in England London, Methuen & Co. Ltd.
[Authors’ names, year of publication, title in italics, place published, publisher’s name.]

You might not want to do it exactly like that but trust me, if you don’t reference the source of information you put into a document, you will regret it. In my own case, it wouldn’t be true to say that the time I spent in researching my subject back in 2009 was wasted, but I’ve had to do it all again so that I can be sure of my sources.