In the research field, one of the most tiresome tasks that researchers who are young and old can commonly agree upon is how difficult a task it is to reference all your sources before publishing your thesis or paper. This is because most people put this off until the last minute and then end up having to go through pages and pages of research to find all the references to the sources they have cited.
However, it doesn’t have to be this way. Citing your sources can be done in a matter of no time – all you have to do is know the tips and tricks that will help you keep track of everything and stay on top of it, so it doesn’t overwhelm you at the last minute. And what better way to know how to cite your sources perfectly than by understanding where other researchers go wrong and how you can avoid making the same mistakes they did?
In the spirit of research and gaining wisdom, this blog aims to help researchers like yourself avoid the 3 sins of referencing so you can start citing and referencing your resources like a pro from the next time – let’s get started!
1. Unacknowledgement and plagiarism – the worst mistakes you can make
A rookie mistake that almost everyone in research makes is not knowing when to cite your sources. As a result, their work may get pulled down for plagiarism, or they may have to end up rewriting everything due to overlooking some of the references they’ve made.
A good way to avoid this is by immediately noting down all ideas, quotes, and theories that you’re using from other researchers and writers. It goes without saying that you will not be able to even simply use their theories or thoughts as an example without giving them due credit, so make sure you go the extra mile to make notes of every single source you end up referencing.
It’s also a good reminder to remember that plagiarism can cause a lot of damage, even if it was accidental. Some of this includes:
- Career consequences, since this may be a black mark on your name and will be noted as unethical practices, so you may find it difficult to find a good job in the future.
- Loss of credibility, since others won’t be able to rely on your works, even if you’ve made some truly original and remarkable discoveries simply because you’ve plagiarised in the past.
- Loss of good grades, especially if this is for your thesis or an assignment.
- Legal consequences can occur if the content you’ve plagiarised has been copyrighted – you may have to end up paying a fee or even have to spend time in jail in some exceptional cases.
2. Incorrect formatting
Even if you’ve made a perfect note of all the references you’ve used during the course of your research, the real struggle begins when you need to start citing your sources on paper. This is because citations can be complicated, especially when you’re writing in a specific style that requires an in-depth understanding of how citations should be done for the respective style.
However, you needn’t struggle too long with this, because there are free citation generators that can help you reference your sources within a matter of minutes. Using a citation generator can help you get the required style you need, and also avoid making any mistakes which could cause you to rewrite everything, even if a single thing goes wrong.
At the end of the day, it’s about smart work, so make sure you don’t spend too much time manually citing all your sources when there are apps that can do it for you for free, like this free citation generator.
3. Forgetting to cite some of your sources
Even if this doesn’t result in plagiarism, it’s still a huge drawback when you forget to mention all the sources you’ve referenced. The reasons behind this are plenty – because referencing many sources that are credible play a role in how credible your research will turn out to be, especially in today’s world where anyone can access your works if they have an internet connection.
Some of the reasons to make sure you never miss citing your sources are:
- It increases your work’s visibility as there are more chances of people stumbling across your works when looking for another author’s works. This is especially true in the digital world we live in today, as search browsers will always pull up associated articles that have similar tags when people search for something.
- It builds your credibility. When you’re able to successfully back up all the claims you’re making in your work with significant sources that have stood the test of time – others will automatically start to appreciate your work more.
- It demonstrates your research skills and shows the amount of effort you’ve put into your work.