Harvard Style of Referencing


In scientific and technical report writing you will often want to refer to other work that is somehow related to your own.  It is best to do this in a clear and unambiguous way.  Indeed, failure to properly acknowledge your sources may leave you open to accusations of plagiarism. 
 

There are a number of different standard ways of referencing other people’s work, but they all share some features. 
 

  • citation is inserted at the appropriate point in your text.  This is intended to indicate the existence of related work that is relevant to the current text.
  • A full reference is given separately for each citation.  This is intended to give sufficient information to enable the reader to trace (and in principle acquire) a copy of the corresponding work.
The example text below shows three citations and a reference list that contains three references - one for each citation.  The citations are shown in green for illustrative purposes only - this is not a requirement of the Harvard style.  Each reference in the reference list gives full details for the corresponding citation. 
  

Interesting Facts about Computing
Google's search engine uses the concept of PageRank (Brin, S. & Page, L. 1998)to assign a value to each individual web page.  This enables it to identify the most important pages that match a user's query.
The weak A.I. hypothesis (Russell, S. & Norvig, P. 2009) asserts that a machine may be programmed to behave as though it is intelligent.  The strong A.I. hypothesis, on the other hand,  asserts that such a machine would actually be intelligent.
Alpha-beta pruning (Knuth, D.E. & Moore, R.W. 1975) is an optimising search algorithm that stops evaluating a move when at least one possibility has been found that proves the move to be worse than a previously examined move. 
Reference List
Brin, S. & Page, L., 1998. The Anatomy of a Large-Scale Hypertextual Web Search Engine. In: Seventh International conference on World-Wide Web (WWW 1998), April 14-18, 1998, Brisbane, Australia. 
Knuth, D.E. & Moore, R.W., 1975. An Analysis of Alpha-Beta Pruning, Artificial Intelligence 6(4), p. 293-326. 

Russell, D.E. & Norvig, P., 2009. 
Artificial Intelligence: a modern approach, 3rd ed., Prentice-Hall.


You will notice that the citations in the text are all within round parentheses, and that the reference list is sorted by author's surname.  These are some of the conventions of the Harvard style.  Without agreed conventions on the structure, format and organisation of citations and references, there is the potential for variation - which may lead to ambiguity and confusion.  

The Harvard Referencing System is a collection of rules and conventions governing the use of citations and references, which is intended to reduce the potential for ambiguity.  The Harvard Referencing System is not the only such system but it is a very common one (Wikipedia contributors 2009) - particularly in scientific and technical disciplines.

Main Features of the Harvard System

Citations and references follow these general principles.

  1. A citation appears, in parenthesis, in the main text.  It normally consists of the author's name, year of publication and (optionally) page numbers.  It is intended to uniquely identify an individual item in the reference list.
  2. The reference list gives full details for each citation that appears in the main text.   The structure and format of an individual reference may vary, depending on the type of work being referred to.  For example, identifying a web page requires a uniform resource locator (URL), while identifying a book does not.

The Citation

There are two ways to cite a work - which one is chosen depends on whether or not the author's name can appear in the text without interrupting its flow.

If the author's name can be used without interrupting the flow of the text, then it is cited by inserting the date of the referred work, within round brackets, immediately after the author's name.  For example:

...  Brin and Page (1998)  designed a search engine that is widely used and has earned them a great deal of money   ...
Reference List
Brin, S. & Page, L., 1998. The Anatomy of a Large-Scale Hypertextual Web Search Engine. In: Seventh International conference on World-Wide Web (WWW 1998), April 14-18, 1998, Brisbane, Australia. 

If, on the other hand,  the author's name would interrupt the flow of the text, then the author's name is included within the brackets, along with the date.  For example:

...  Google's search engine (Brin, S. & Page, L. 1998)  is widely used and has contributed greatly to the company's success   ...  

Reference List
Brin, S. & Page, L., 1998. The Anatomy of a Large-Scale Hypertextual Web Search Engine. In: Seventh International conference on World-Wide Web (WWW 1998), April 14-18, 1998, Brisbane, Australia. 

Quotations

It is sometimes necessary to quote a passage of text from a related work.  If the passage is a single sentence or shorter then it is simply enclosed in quotation marks, and accompanied by a citation in the normal way.  For example:

Creaney (2009) advises that "If the passage is a single sentence or shorter then it may simply be enclosed within quotation marks".

It is reccommended that "If the passage is a single sentence or shorter then it may simply be enclosed within quotation marks".  (Creaney 1990).
Reference List
Creaney, N., 2009.  How to Use the Harvard Style of Referencing [Online] Available at: http://knol.google.com/k/-/-/1hzaxtdr9c09g/14# [Accessed 20 May 2009].

If the passage is longer than a single sentence, then it should be given a paragraph to itself.  The paragraph should be indented and without quotation marks.  For example:

The following indented paragraph illustrates how to quote a multi-sentence text passage.
Different types of works (e.g. books, journal articles, conference papers) need different items of information to uniquely identify an individual work, and so the Harvard System prescribes a specific structure and format for referencing each type of work.  Some of the more common ones are described below but this is by no means an exhaustive list.
(Creaney 2009)
Do not change the text that you are quoting - even if it contains spelling mistakes.

Reference List

Creaney, N., 2009.  How to Use the Harvard Style of Referencing [Online] Available at: http://knol.google.com/k/-/-/1hzaxtdr9c09g/14# [Accessed 20 May 2009].

It is sometimes desirable to edit the author's original text to give context or to make the meaning clear.  This is achieved using:

  • three dots within square brackets to indicate a deletion
  • text within square brackets to indicate an insertion

If you edit a quotation you must be very careful not to change the author's intended meaning.

The following paragraph illustrates an edited quotation.
Different types of works [...] need different items of information [...] and so the Harvard System prescribes a specific structure [...] for referencing each type [...].  Some of the more common [types of work] are described below but this is by no means an exhaustive list.
(Creaney 2009)
Four sections of text have been deleted and one section - "types of work" - has been inserted.

Reference List

Creaney, N., 2009.  How to Use the Harvard Style of Referencing [Online] Available at: http://knol.google.com/k/-/-/1hzaxtdr9c09g/14# [Accessed 20 May 2009].


The Reference List

Each reference in the list should begin on a new line and they should be sorted by author name.  

  • If an author has several works in the list, then those references should be sorted by year - with the earlier ones coming first.  
  • If an author has several works in the same year, then those references should be distinguished by appending a lower case letter to the date.

This is illustrated in the example below.

Reference List

Brin, S. & Page, L., 1998. The Anatomy of a Large-Scale ...  ...
Creaney, N., 2005a.   (Editor), AICS '05, Proceedings of  ...  ...
Creaney, N., 2005b.   Generating Quantifiers ...  ...
Creaney, N., 2006.  (Guest Editor),  Artificial Intelligence Review, ...  ...
    Knuth, D.E. & Moore, R.W., 1975. An Analysis of ...  ...

    Different types of works (e.g. books, journal articles, conference papers) need different items of information to uniquely identify an individual work, and so the Harvard System prescribes a specific structure and format for referencing each type of work.  Some of the more common ones are described below but this is by no means an exhaustive list.  The reader is referred to Anglia Ruskin University (2007), De Montford University (2008) and British Standards Institution (1989, 1990) for more complete collections.

    How to Reference a Book

    A reference to a book, thesis or dissertation has the following structure.

    • Author's surname followed by a comma.
    • Author's initials in capitals, with full-stop after each and a comma after the final full-stop.
    • Year of publication followed by full-stop.
    • Full title of book in italics with capitalization of first word and proper nouns only - followed by full-stop unless there is a sub-title.  If there is a sub-title, this follows a colon at end of full title, with no capitalization except for proper nouns - follow by full-stop.
    • Edition number followed by the abbreviation "ed." - followed by full-stop. Only include this if not first edition. 
    • Place of publication: Town or city, follow by colon.
    • Publisher - company name followed by full-stop.

    This is an example of a full reference to a book.

    ... Semantic networks (Russell & Norvig 2009) are often ...
    Reference List

    Russell, D.E. & Norvig, P., 2009. 
    Artificial Intelligence: a modern approach, 3rd ed., Prentice-Hall.

    How to Reference a Journal Article

    A reference to a journal article has the following structure:

    • Author's surname followed by a comma.
    • Author's initials in capitals, with full-stop after each and a comma after the final full-stop.
    • Year of publication followed by full-stop.
    • Full title of the article - not in italics - with capitalization of first word and proper nouns only - followed by full-stop unless there is a sub-title.  If there is a sub-title, this follows a colon at end of full title, with no capitalization except for proper nouns - followed by full-stop.
    • Full title of journal, in italics, with capitalization of key words - followed by comma.
    • Volume number
    • Issue/Part number in brackets, followed by comma.
    • Page numbers preceded by "pp." for a range of pages and "p." for a single page - followed by full-stop.

    This is an example of a full reference to a journal article.

    ... Alpha-Beta pruning (Knuth & Moore 1975) is a technique ...

    Reference List

    Knuth, D.E. & Moore, R.W., 1975.  An Analysis of Alpha-Beta Pruning, 
    Artificial Intelligence 6(4), pp. 293-326.

    How to Reference a Conference Paper

    A reference to a conference paper has the following structure.

    • Author's surname followed by a comma.
    • Author's initials in capitals, with full-stop after each and a comma after the final full-stop.
    • Year of publication followed by full-stop.
    • Full title of conference paper - not in italics - with capitalization of first word and proper nouns only - followed by full-stop unless there is a sub-title.  If there is a sub-title, this follows a colon at end of full title, with no capitalization except for proper nouns - followed by full-stop.
    • Full title of conference, in italics, with capitalization of key words - followed by comma.
    • Location followed by a comma.
    • Date followed by a comma.
    • Publisher (company name) followed by colon.
    • Place of publication (town or city name) follow by full-stop.

    This is an example of a full reference to a conference paper.

    ... The concept of page rank (Brin & Page 1998) is ...
    Reference List

    Brin, S. & Page, L., 1998. The Anatomy of a Large-Scale Hypertextual Web Search Engine. In: 
    Seventh International conference on World-Wide Web (WWW 1998), April 14-18, 1998, Brisbane, Australia.

    How to Reference a Website

    A reference to a website has the following structure.

    • Authorship or Source - followed by comma
    • Year - followed by full-stop.
    • Title of web document or web page - in italics - followed by "[Online]"
    • Date of most recent update - within round brackets.
    • Available at - followed by the URL (underlined)
    • Date of most recent access - in square brackets - followed by full-stop

    This is an example of a full reference to a website.

    ... Creaney (2008) discusses a range of  ...
    Reference List

    Creaney, N., 2008.  
    Legal Issues for IT Professionals [Online] (Updated 26 September 2008) Available at: http://knol.google.com/k/n-/-/1hzaxtdr9c09g/7 [Accessed 30 January 2009].

    How to Reference a Table or Diagram

    Whether you are reproducing a whole table, or simply some data extracted from it, you must acknowledge the source.  

    The format of the reference depends on the nature of the source - whether it is a book, journal paper, website, etc. - and you should include the associated page number.


    How to Reference a Corporate Publication

    Corporate publications frequently do not name the author.  In these cases, the name of the organisation may replace the author's name.  For example:

    ... Anglia Ruskin University (2007) provides an excellent introduction to the Harvard style of referencing  ...

    Reference List

    Anglia Ruskin University, 2007. 
    University Library: guide to Harvard style referencing [Online] (Updated September 2008), Available at: http://libweb.anglia.ac.uk/referencing/harvard.htm [Accessed 30 January 2009].

    How to Reference an Unpublished Work

    If a work has been accepted for publication but not yet published, the reference is structured as follows:

    ... A range of scenarios that evoke ethical dilemmas are discussed in Creaney (in press).  In many cases ...

    Reference List

    Creaney, N., (in press) 
    Dummies Guide to Professional Ethics. O'Really.

    If a work is circulated informally but not published - for example lecture notes - then the reference is structured as follows:

    ... A range of scenarios that evoke ethical dilemmas are discussed in Creaney (2009).  In many cases ...

    Reference List

    Creaney, N., 2009.  
    Lecture Notes on Professional Ethics. [Leaflet]  University of Ulster.

    How to Reference a Photograph or Artwork

    If you want to reference a photograph or artwork that is reproduced in a book, then you may treat it like a reference to a diagram - which is described above.  To refer to the original artwork, the reference is structured as follows:


    ... Sepia photographs (Creaney 2009) are not always as old as they appear ...


    Reference List

    Creaney, C., 1959.  Norman at Four Months. [Photograph] (Norman Creaney's private collection).

    da Vinci, L., 1509.   Mona Lisa. [Painting] (Louvre, Paris)

    where C. Creaney and L. da Vinci are the photographer and artist, respectively.

    References with Incomplete Information

    The following conventions are used to indicate missing or incomplete date information:

    • 199-   indicates that the decade is known to be the 1990s but the year is not konwn
    • 199?   indicates that the decade is thought to be the 1990s, but there is some doubt
    • 1993? indicates that the year is thought to be 1993, but there is some doubt

    Other missing items of information are indicated as follows:

    • Anon   indicates that the author is not known
    • s.l.     indicates that the place of publication is  not known
    • s.n.    indicates that the name of the publisher is not known
     

    The Bibliography


    Sometimes you may want to acknowledge that you are aware of a piece of related work.  Perhaps you have read it and it has influenced your thinking generally, but not in a specific way that deserves a citation and reference. 

    These related works, if there are any, should be listed in a bibliography.  The bibliography is organised and structured in exactly the same way as the reference list except that there are no corresponding citations.


    Standard Harvard Style


    The description given in this knol is based on the related British Standards (British Standards Institution 1989, 1990), but in practice there are often minor variations in usage - particularly outside the UK.

    Some of the more common reference types and formats are listed above, and alternative lists can be found in Anglia Ruskin University (2007), De Montford University (2008) and, of course, British Standards Institution (1989, 1990).  You may occasionally find the need to reference a type of work that is not covered by any of the above cases. If you are unable to find an exact match then you may have to improvise.  If so, you should be guided by the following advice:

    1. Adopt and adapt the best matching case from those above.
    2. Ensure that your reference is clear and unambiguous, and that you give sufficient information to enable your reader to find the source.

    If you are in any doubt about how to reference a particular item, you should follow the conventions of the organisation that you are working in.  In a university or college you might ask advice from your lecturer or librarian.  Alternatively you might consult any existing reports within your organisation to learn what previous authors have done. 


    Finally


    If you are quoting, paraphrasing or extending someone else’s work, it is essential that you acknowledge your sources - failure to do so may leave you vulnerable to accusations of plagiarism.  Ultimately your referencing system just needs to be clear, unambiguous, and consistent.  The Harvard Referencing System is a, widely used, collection of rules and conventions that will help you to achieve this.   

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