A reference page is a mandatory section of every research paper. Its basic purpose is to demonstrate your readers the scope of investigation activities you have done. Additionally, this is an academic tool commonly used to avoid being accused of plagiarism. With a reference page, an author is expected to acknowledge the contribution of other people. This is a matter of scholar diligence. There are certain guidelines that should be kept in mind when you compose this section in your paper.
- A reference page is typically placed at the end of a research paper. This should be an explicit, separate section bearing the title ‘References’. Text fonts, the use of capital letters, the format of each item and other details should be in line with the formatting style (MLA, APA, etc.) required by your educational institution.
- The list may include any type of sources you have been using to do your research, such as websites, articles, conference proceedings, TV broadcasts etc. Each source should be a separate item on the list, so never combine two articles together, even if they are found on the same website page. This is because you have to provide references or links to relevant sources in your text to acknowledge authorship of original researchers.
- Each item on such a list should contain only relevant information. Check a guide on formatting styles to know what data exactly you should note when you come across a worthy website or article. This will help you avoid returning to the sources upon completion of the main research and proceeding to the closing section. If no specific formatting requirements are set by your teacher, you may choose yourself what details you will provide for each item. However, make sure you secure consistency across the list.
- The best way to present your list of sources is to alphabetize items by the authors’ names. Such an approach helps keep the reference section easy to read and look through. This is also another reason why the list is preferably to be formed prior to getting down to writing the body text of your research. It is the last name that should be put first. If there are multiple authors, check the origin to find out who is mentioned first and keep the order in your paper.
Common Mistakes to Watch Out For
Given a reference page is a mandatory and important part of any academic research, you should try to avoid common mistakes students often make with such a task.
- Don’t provide a source in the end of every page where you make reference to it. This should be an aggregate list placed on a separate sheet in the end of the whole paper.
- Capitalizing the entire title ‘References’ is not a good idea. Only the first letter should be a capital.
- Formatting of the section should always be in compliance with the primary formatting style chosen by you or set by your college/university.
- Students often neglect the importance of alphabetizing the items provided or choose to alphabetize by an attribute different from an author’s name. This makes the section rather difficult to handle and can be considered by your teacher as a mistake.