Bibliographies and referencing
At the time of writing there is no single accepted citation style for OU modules. It is a good idea to encourage students to check any module guidelines for specific requirements. Whatever the discipline, students should follow any guidance provided consistently and accurately, and keep good records of the material they have used when preparing their work. There is guidance on citing references and creating bibliographies in Safari, plus the Cite references page on the Library website. The OU's Developing good academic practices website has a section on referencing.
These materials will help your students to:
- understand why referencing is important
- be able to use references and bibliographies consistently in their work
The links given above are useful resources for students to refer to throughout their module – post them to a forum, or print out relevant material for distribution at tutorials or by post.
Suggested level: 1 and beyond
- Ask your students to go to Amazon and search for a book called Financial Statement Analysis that was published in 2003. They can sort their results so that the most recent publications are at the top of the list. More than one book was published in 2003 with this title. Questions to explore include the following.
- Why is it important to reference properly the sources you have referred to in your work?
- What information might you need to include in a reference to a book or a journal article to enable someone reading your work to find it again for themselves?
- Show students what a list of references looks like by providing them with some examples from books and journal articles. You could ask them to find their own examples of lists of references from journals in their subject area using a full text database (e.g. Academic Search Complete).
- Provide students with examples of lists of references which have used different referencing styles. Ask students to look carefully at the different examples of referencing, and make comparisons. Questions to explore include the following.
- How do the bibliographies differ?
- What do they have in common? It would be useful to draw out here that even though bibliographies can look very different, the ‘style’ of each has been applied consistently, and they serve the same purpose.
- Can your students identify the different types of material referred to in each bibliography, for example, journal articles, books and conference proceedings?
- Try this handout on building references with your students. If you are able to meet and work in a group, cut the elements of the references up and ask the students to arrange them in the right order. The example uses a variation on the Harvard style that is usually used in OU materials. Feel free to adapt it to suit whichever style is recommended on your course.