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What to consider when including bibliographic references

Academic papers are a fundamental tool in university life. Through them, students demonstrate that they have sufficient capacities and skills to overcome the subjects and that they are prepared to develop themselves in the professional field. An academic work, in order to be conceived in this category, must always be supported by texts and authors that support the statements and arguments made in it. 

Those who are already studying at higher education levels know perfectly well that bibliographical references must be part of their lives if they are not to cause problems with their professors or, directly, with intellectual property. This resource will probably be one of the most used during the academic life and in each new work the question is : am I using the bibliographic references well ? 

To begin with, let's define this concept.

What are the bibliographic references of academic works

Bibliographic references are the content outside the elaboration of the work itself and are a perfect tool of argumentation.

Texts belonging to other authors and, therefore, to other academic works, scientific journals, books, research, etc., must be adequately evidenced in the references and in the bibliography.

So, when doing an academic work, whether it is a monograph, essay or thesis, it can generate problems of plagiarism not knowing how to use these textual resources well.

Bibliographic references serve to identify without problems the work that has been used to write the content of the work.  To do so, it is essential that the following information is present:

  • Author
  • Title of the work
  • Publication data
  • Publisher
  • Edition
  • Number and volume
  • Pages

How do references differ from bibliographies?

Many students believe that there is somebody who would help me write my essay, but the truth is that students should write essays without help.

The first thing to keep in mind is that one of these resources covers the materials consulted, while another refers to those that have been used in the text, in a specific way. When developing a written task that needs to be substantiated, there are many materials that can be consulted, but they are not always referred to directly.

The bibliography, on the one hand, is the complete list of the materials that have been consulted to write the work. Many sources may have been consulted, but the content of some was not included in the text. Instead, the references are included directly in the text.

Characteristics of the bibliography

The bibliography includes all the materials consulted for the elaboration of the text and that served to support the thought or ideas expressed. Elements of the bibliography, such as books, essays, scientific articles, etc., do not necessarily have to be included in the text produced.

The bibliography should:

  • Be a list of all reference materials for the elaboration of the written work
  • To be included after the reference list
  • Express yourself in alphabetical order

Characteristics of the references

According to the PLA Standards, references include only those sources that were used to support the work, that is, those that served to support arguments throughout the text, either through textual citations or generalized statements. This resource serves to allow readers to check the veracity of the arguments in the sources and to evaluate the accuracy of what is said in the text.

All references will be included at the end of the academic work, forming part of the bibliography.

References should:

  • Be included when a quotation is made in the text.
  • Be present when the argument is based on another written work.
  • Be expressed in alphabetical order.
  • How are the bibliographical references cited?

A short reference is placed in parentheses within a paragraph. Depending on the bibliographic style, it can be a footnote, at the end of a chapter or the whole document.

The way in which bibliographic references are included varies, as there are different citation models. For undergraduate work it is recommended that the standards of the APA (American Psychological Association) publication manual be used. This type of citation mainly provides information about the author and the year in which the work was published.


 (Davis and Whalen, 2001). 

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