1. This site uses cookies. By continuing to use this site, you are agreeing to our use of cookies. Learn More.
  2. Hi Guest, welcome to the TES Community!

    Connect with like-minded education professionals and have your say on the issues that matter to you.

    Don't forget to look at the how to guide.

    Dismiss Notice

Harvard Referencing System

Discussion in 'Personal' started by Doglover, Oct 18, 2019.

  1. Doglover

    Doglover Occasional commenter

    Is anyone familiar with it?

    My daughter is writing a university assignment and no matter how hard she tries, she always seems to get something wrong in the referencing.

    On this occasion, she is unsure how to reference something from the Preface of a book. It doesn’t have page numbers per se. Before when she has put preface instead of a page or chapter number they have told her it’s wrong and not offered advice on the correct way. Of course, I have told her it’s her responsibility to find out the right way and have suggested she email her personal tutor and ask if he could maybe explain the correct way, but of course she’s left it too late to do that!
  2. Mangleworzle

    Mangleworzle Star commenter

    nomad likes this.
  3. moonpenny

    moonpenny Occasional commenter

    Have you tried googling to see if the university has an online referencing guide or there may be something or their intranet?


    This guide gives an example using an introduction etc and referencing it.

    The trouble with Harvard is that it is not consistent and often universities have their own version of Harvard referencing with various ‘tweaks’ such as page number format etc which makes it really hard to know exactly which format to use.

    One thing is to always be consistent in the style you decide to use.
  4. Mangleworzle

    Mangleworzle Star commenter

  5. Scintillant

    Scintillant Star commenter

    Have a look at the Chicago Manual of Style. It covers referencing formats, including Harvard, in great detail.
    Doglover likes this.
  6. hhhh

    hhhh Lead commenter

    Aren't most references these days from websites, so wouldn't you have to list this along with the original books? Yes, I'm old.
  7. Scintillant

    Scintillant Star commenter

    Yes, and there's a specific format for those too!
  8. Doglover

    Doglover Occasional commenter

    I think part of the problem is that Harvard is the referencing system for her faculty but not the one most lecturers and other students are most familiar with.
    For kindle books etc where there are no page numbers, you just cite the chapter number. However when it’s a preface it hasn’t got a page or chapter number. Apparently, it’s incorrect to write preface.
  9. mothorchid

    mothorchid Star commenter

    A Preface sometimes has roman numerals for page numbers... Any help? If there is a tutor who keeps finding fault, can't she email this person in advance and ask how to reference that particular thing?
    I have been confused by the Harvard system too, as it seems unnecessarily complex and mostly, common sense is all you need.
  10. frangipani123

    frangipani123 Lead commenter

    Most universities have an Academic Writing Centre or something similar, where you can go for guidance. I would recommend that your daughter contact them and also email whoever is marking the assignments for a pointer as to where to go for help. Plagiarism is a huge deal in universities so their should be help provided. The link above to Leeds University is very helpful too.
    576 likes this.
  11. Crowbob

    Crowbob Lead commenter

    Citing a preface is a little strange (in my view). I cannot think of many times where it would be an appropriate source. But it may be she is in literature or humanities. The fact that she has tried to cite one before and is now trying again tells me there maybe something up with her approach to research (unless she is writing an essay on prefaces! It has been known re: study of the Preface to Frankenstei). I would recommend that she works on why she ends up settling on the preface. Can I ask what discipline she is studying?

    Prefaces - for academic works - are typically a summary of the book's argument, approach and structure. If it is in the preface then it is in the main bit of the book somewhere...
  12. studentcrisis

    studentcrisis New commenter

    I would put an early page number and trust that the lecturer is only checking for references which look correct and won’t go to the actual book to check - but that’s just me ;)
  13. mandala1

    mandala1 Occasional commenter

    Don't quote - paraphrase it. Then you don't need page numbers at all.
    Stiltskin likes this.
  14. Crowbob

    Crowbob Lead commenter

    Yes, you do. If you are using the idea OR words of someone else then you need to fully reference (including pinpointing page)....
  15. SammyBear2016

    SammyBear2016 Occasional commenter

    As has already been said although most universities use the Harvard referencing system they do have their own variations. The best thing for her to do would be to contact her tutor and ask them for assistance in general with referencing so that moving forward she fully understands what she is required to do or alternatively seek help for the academic support team.

    Most universities have guidance on their VLE for referencing that students can access. I would be surprised if one incorrectly written reference would have that much of an impact on her assignment but if she is that worried about it i would look for another source (that she can reference) that supports the information she has presented.
  16. Doglover

    Doglover Occasional commenter

    She studies Divinity. Although she did also study English for a year.
    Actually, they quite like it when you quote the preface or introduction of a book - it shows that you have read all of the book and have taken the time to look at the specific context the author is is putting his work in. It can also give you quite a lot of information about the reason the author is writing the book. It can be the source of good summarising quotes for the introduction or conclusion of an essay.
    In this case she was writing an article review of an article discussing a particular theological debate. The author she was quoting had explained in his preface the importance of looking at arguments within the historical context they were written in order to reach a full understanding of whether there are inconsistencies in the argument. She wanted to set this out as an important aspect of the reasoning behind the article she was reviewing. It was similar to what the article she was reviewing was saying.
    She usually comes out of assignments with a first or 2:1, so I’m thinking her research is just fine.
  17. Doglover

    Doglover Occasional commenter

    We solved the problem! Apparently when you are quoting a preface you put the author, year, Roman numeral. However, there is no requirement to put “p” in front of the Roman numerals as you would for an ordinary page number.
    mothorchid likes this.
  18. Crowbob

    Crowbob Lead commenter

    Maybe its a discipline thing but I would assume that citing a preface meant quite the opposite -i.e. that a student was looking for a shortcut to reading the substantive text...
    Sorry if it touched a nerve, only trying to help :) (and it is always possible to improve research methodology, regardless of marks already obtained).
  19. mothorchid

    mothorchid Star commenter

    In Literature, a preface is very often a critical study of the text. If it's by the original author of the text, it is the often author's own commentary on that text. It is thus a legitimate source.
  20. Doglover

    Doglover Occasional commenter

    You didn’t touch a nerve. I thought perhaps my response might seem that way when I read it back. Apologies.
    It is quite important to read for example in literature or history or theology. It will often outline the author's intention and offer context/background.
    In the example of the article review my daughter was undertaking, the author was addressing a debate surrounding a certain theological doctrine. The author was explaining that it was important to look at the work of these theological scholars within the historical context of their work. She wanted to find another author who shared this opinion, and the author she found expressed this very eloquently in the preface to his book, examining the same debate. She referenced his work on several occasions, from a variety of chapters throughout his book. Having referenced the preface of books before, she has been told it’s good practice because it shows she considered the whole book - most people skip the preface but it is important because it contains the “thesis statement” if you like, for the book. It’s not a summary. It’s a proposal.
    mothorchid likes this.

Share This Page