Writing a report can, for some people be a daily occurrence while for the rest of us it is usually a monthly task

. While a common occurrence for some and rare for others it cannot however be argued against that at some time in one’s career one will be required to write a formal report including along the way full citation of sources. This is by no means a 5 minute job. Adding all required sources into the relevant document can be a long job even with dedicated tools/interfaces within the most popular word processing applications. For example Microsoft Word 2007 has a very competent citation and bibliography interfaces that the user can use to add the information needed. The crunch is however that they still need to spend valuable time manually adding their sources. This is always the case no matter how good the interface is. It would be reasonable to be wondering right about now exactly why people spend so much time making sure that their reports are properly cited and that they an exhaustive bibliography section. Simple, for any formal report’s findings/conclusions to be taken seriously the authors of the report must state the sources of the information which they base their opinions/facts off. This is the only way that readers can check the details for themselves. If this was not the case then there would be no way for readers of the report to confirm or disprove what the author(s) say and would consequently mean that the information presented in the report could not be taken seriously. It is also essential to properly cite articles and reports so as not to be accused of plagiarism of another’s work. Here is a definition of the term citation: ‘the pertinent information needed to find the full text of a publication. Citation of a book generally includes: author(s), title, publisher, date. Citation of an article in a periodical generally includes: author(s), article title, source journal title, volume, pages, and date.’ (library, 2007) What are an author’s choices when it comes to citing their sources of information? There are two main citation systems in use today. • • Firstly there’s the Harvard referencing system. Also known as the author-date system and the parenthetical referencing system. And secondly: The Numeric system.

It is said (Hilton & Robinson, 1995, p. 8) that the two prominent differences between the two systems is firstly the way the author refers to a particular source in the report/articles text and secondly in respect to the position of the date in the reference to that item in the bibliography. The most popular and used system is said (Germov & Williams, 1999) to be Harvard. The Rules (Hilton & Robinson, 1995) for the Harvard referencing system are: I. The bibliography must be arranged in alphabetical order of author’s surname, followed by the date of publication, followed by the rest of the publication details.

II.

III.

IV.

When linking the information the author has used in his/her text he/she must put the author’s surname and the date of publication at the appropriate point in the text, surrounded by parentheses Different details must be used when citing different media type sources. For example if the author is citing a phrase from a book then he would not need to enter a URL for that book into the bibliography, whereas if he/she is citing a website it is mandatory. Citation style must be kept consistent. The author cannot switch between different systems or even different interpretations of one system or he/she may confuse their audience.

If author’s use the Harvard citation system to reference there sources then they can be safe in the knowledge that they are providing their readers and peers with an established method on validating the information the report puts forward while also knowing that they will not be accused of plagiarism. Doing this is increasingly easy and accessible as competent citation tools are built into (and being improved upon) the most popular word processors on the market (free or paid for) today. There are even websites that allow you to create bibliographies online, for example www.easybib.com. I have cited any sources of information that I have used for this report using the Harvard method.

Bibliography
Germov, J., & Williams, L. (1999). Get Great Information Fast. [Not Known]: Allen & Unwin. Hilton, A., & Robinson, S. (1995). Information citation & control. Leicester: De Montfort University. library, F. S. (2007). Library Terms. Retrieved September Wed, 2007, from www.lib.fsu.edu: http://www.lib.fsu.edu/help/libraryterms

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