Are references and sources the same thing? Is a reference page the same thing as a page of citations?
A reference list (sometimes called reference page ):
- Appears at the end of a paper, presentation, or project
- Is a listing of all of the materials referred to (cited, quoted, paraphrased, summarized) in the paper
- Who wrote/created it (author)
- When they created it (date of publication)
- What the source is called (title)
- Where to find it (varies by format of material)
Items within a reference page/list are sometimes called sources, references or citations.
In-text citations appear inside a paper and tell the reader:
- That the a specific portion of the information comes from an outside source, not from the author of the paper
- That there is a "matching" item in the reference list that they can look at for complete information about the source of the information
To learn more about APA in general, visit the APA Guide . Take a close look at specific sections of the Guide like In-Text Citations and References .
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Citations and References
The citation-order system (typically used in engineering--ieee documentation)..
Citations : When you cite the sources of information in the report, you give a number in brackets that corresponds to the number of the source listed in the order in which they appear in the report, the source listed first as , the next source , etc. Jenkins and Busher report that beavers eat several kinds of herbaceous plants as well as the leaves, twigs, and bark of most species of woody plants that grow near water . Beavers have been shown to be discriminate eaters of hardwoods .
References : The sources are listed in the order in which they are cited in the report, as in the following book and article.
 S.H. Jenkins and P.E. Busher, "Castor canadensis," Mammalian Species . Vol. 20, Jan. 1979.  H.S. Crawford, R.G. Hooper, and R.F Harlow, Woody Plants Selected by Beavers in the Appalachian and Valley Province . Upper Darby, PA: U.S. Department of Agriculture, 1976.
Documentation on the Internet:
Help for using the documentation system of the Council of Biological Editors (for life sciences). The source is the Writing Center at the University of Wisconsin. Help for using the documentation system of the American Chemical Society (for chemistry classes). The source is the Lehigh University Library.
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Difference between source and reference
- Thread starter nationi
- Start date Dec 25, 2017
- Dec 25, 2017
What's the difference between "source" and "reference"? and how do I use the terms?
Hello, nationi. Both "source" and "reference" can refer to some book or article that you consult when you make a factual statement about something. At the end of many books, you'll find a list of "references", which are the books, etc. the author used in writing his or her book. I think it's a little more common to talk about "sources" rather than "references" when people are talking about the sources of information that they rely on for facts: I read that the world will have nearly eight billion people in it by 2050. Oh yeah? What is your source for that number?
A reference is a mention of a source. From the WR dictionary: source any thing or place from which something comes or is obtained; origin source - WordReference.com Dictionary of English reference a direction of the attention, as in a book, to some other book, passage, etc. reference - WordReference.com Dictionary of English The source of a quotation is the place (book, newspaper, website etc.) from which you took the material quoted. The reference is your listing of the source. The list at the end of an article or book could be called either "references" (i.e. the author's list of sources) or "sources" (the books etc. themselves which the author used in doing research).
In academic books, references to sources such as books, journals, articles, etc. are often given in short form – e.g. "Smith et al. 1982" – in the main text (and/or in footnotes or endnotes), with full details of them listed in a bibliography at the end of the book. There are also cross-references in the text, such as: "(see fig. 8 on p. 139)".
So, "source" is where I get my materials from (such as books, journals, etc.),"Reference" is a list of sources, and "Bibliography" always equals "Reference"? Can I use the word "source" at the end of an academic paper instead of "reference"?
Yes, you should be able to do that, nationi. Abstract questions about what you can and can't do in a paper are hard to answer. But many sentences in academic papers refer to "sources" of information.
- Dec 26, 2017
I understand now, thanks!
- Aug 25, 2019
Hello everyone I wonder if my take based on these words "source" "reference" "bibliography" based on my experience is correct. If not, please kindly let me know where I am mistaken: Case one: The "list" / "mention" at the end of a book used by the author to write a book / article can be called: "references" or "sources" or "bibliography". Case two: The place of a quotation (book, newspaper, website etc.) from which you took the material quoted can be called: "references" or "sources". (Bibliography) does not work here.) Case three: The materials (books) you have to study to pass an exam just can be called: "references". (To me, "sources" and "bibliography" do not work in this sense.)
Your explanation suggests that you misunderstand these words. A bibliography is a full list — nearly always placed at the end of an academic book, along with other endmatter such as index, appendixes, glossary, list of picture credits, etc. — of all the publications referred to and/or mentioned in the main part of that book. (Any word with “biblio” in it refers to books.) The words source (the book/article/speech etc. that a quote or piece of information came from) and reference (a mention of a particular source) should not be confused. See #3 and #4.
lingobingo said: Your explanation suggests that you misunderstand these words. A bibliography is a full list — nearly always placed at the end of an academic book, along with other endmatter such as index, appendixes, glossary, list of picture credits, etc. — of all the publications referred to and/or mentioned in the main part of that book. (Any word with “biblio” in it refers to books.) The words source (the book/article/speech etc. that a quote or piece of information came from) and reference (a mention of a particular source) should not be confused. See #3 and #4. Click to expand...
A reference is any mention of a source in the main text of the book — where, for the sake of brevity, references are often made in short form. Full listing of an article in the bibliography: French, A. (1972), “Topical Influences on Herodotus’ Narrative”, Mnemos , 25, 9–27. References to it in main text and notes: (French in Mnemos , 1972)
lingobingo said: A reference is any mention of a source in the main text of the book — where, for the sake of brevity, references are often made in short form. Full listing of an article in the bibliography: French, A. (1972), “Topical Influences on Herodotus’ Narrative”, Mnemos , 25, 9–27. References to it in main text and notes: (French in Mnemos , 1972) Click to expand...
I don’t know of a specific term for that (apart from coursebook). Presumably you mean study materials for a particular course of study.
lingobingo said: I don’t know of a specific term for that (apart from coursebook). Presumably you mean study materials for a particular course of study. Click to expand...
They’re sources, as I explained in #9.
lingobingo said: They’re sources, as I explained in #9. Click to expand...
I’ve been explaining specifically about the term references as used in the field of academic publishing (definition 1.1 here: reference | Lexico ). But the word reference is used in other ways too. You seem to be talking about definition 1.2.
lingobingo said: I’ve been explaining specifically about the term references as used in the field of academic publishing (definition 1.1 here: reference | Lexico ). But the word reference is used in other ways too. You seem to be talking about definition 1.2. Click to expand...
A-friend said: Here, if I'm not mistaken, a "reference" is cited to be exactly the same as a "source". Click to expand...
I always understood the difference to be: The sources of an author's information are all the books he has read while preparing his article. Sometimes entitled Further Reading . The references are the specific page numbers of the quotations he uses. These are often numbered and refer to Notes or Footnotes The bibliography is the alphabetic list of sources, or the numeric list of references, as the case may be.
PaulQ said: "A-friend said PaulQ's book says "The River Nile has its source in Lake Victoria and the Nile is the longest river in the world"." The source of the River Nile is Lake Victoria. -> the original starting point; the origin. The reference to the River Nile is not Lake Victoria but is in PaulQ's book. -> a reference need not be the origin. PaulQ's reference to the length of the River Nile is disputed (the words/facts of the reference)- the Amazon might be longer. PaulQ says that his source for the claim that the Nile is the longest river in the world was the Egyptian Ministry of Tourism. The neutrality of the source is disputed. Click to expand...
owlman5 said: Both "source" and "reference" can refer to some book or article that you consult when you make a factual statement about something. At the end of many books, you'll find a list of "references", which are the books, etc. the author used in writing his or her book. I think it's a little more common to talk about "sources" rather than "references" when people are talking about the sources of information that they rely on for facts: I read that the world will have nearly eight billion people in it by 2050. Oh yeah? What is your source for that number? Click to expand...
A-friend said: Don't you think there is an AE / BE difference here? Click to expand...
Keith Bradford said: I always understood the difference to be: The sources of an author's information are all the books he has read while preparing his article. Sometimes entitled Further Reading . The references are the specific page numbers of the quotations he uses. These are often numbered and refer to Notes or Footnotes The bibliography is the alphabetic list of sources, or the numeric list of references, as the case may be. Click to expand...
PaulQ said: No. It is down to individual understanding. I think we are all agreed that sometimes a source and a reference are almost the same and in other contexts, they are not. "My reference for my claim is the article in "Wikipedia". The source of that claim is a manuscript written c. 200BC." "The source of, and the reference for, the quote are the same - I took it from "Hamlet" by Shakespeare." Click to expand...
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Understanding Citations vs. References
References and citations are the apples and oranges of the writing world. While it might seem like these two words are interchangeable. They are distinctly different within a scholarly writing piece in MLA, APA format or Chicago style. Learn what they are and how to use each one.
Citations or References
No matter what writing style that you use, you’ll come across the reference or citation dilemma, especially if you’re a newer writer. It can be easy to get the two terms confused. At their core:
- An in-text citation matches up to a source citation in your reference list, works cited or bibliography
- References refer to the sources listed within a reference list
Now that you know the basics, examine each one in a bit more detail.
All the different styles (e.g., APA , MLA, Chicago, Harvard) include an in-text citation. Sometimes called cites, in-text citations provide the reader with the name of the author, publication year and page numbers. If they discuss the publication year and author within the writing, the citation will then only include a page number. Citations are included for poems , books, magazines, and more.
Example: MLA In-Text citation:
According to Doe, “Citations can be hard to create” (99).
She stated, “Citations could be hard for students” (Jones 99).
Example: APA In-Text citation:
“According to Doe, “Citations can be hard to create” (1998, p. 199).
She stated, “Citations could be hard for students” (Doe, 1998, p. 199).
Each in-text citation connects to a source citation in your references. References will be found at the end of the work. They are on their own page with a title. The references are more in-depth than the in-text citations. They tell you how to find the reference by answering the who, what, where and when. The format of the reference citation will be different depending on what you are referencing like a blog or a picture .
Example: MLA Source Citation:
Bronte, Charlotte. Jane Eyre . Edited by Margaret Smith, Oxford UP, 1998.
Example: APA Source Citation:
Bronte, C. (1999). Jane Eyre . Peterborough, Ont: Broadview Press.
Using Them in Your Paper
Although you normally have to match all in-text citations with a source citation in your reference list, there are times when it’s not necessary to do this.
- Personal interviews are cited in the text but not on the reference page. This is because there isn’t a published reference to include.
- The Bible is another source that might be included in the text but not on the reference page, especially in APA and Chicago. MLA does require a biblical source citation in the works cited page.
Citing Your Sources
Always remember to cite your sources accurately. Most citations include an in-text or parenthetical citation that refers to the full citation in your references. It’s important to credit the sources you use to write your research paper to avoid plagiarism.
How to Make a Citation in MLA, APA and Chicago/Turabian
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Reference Resources Guide: Reference Sources
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R eference sources generally summarize topics or assists in finding secondary literature. These sources provide background information or help you to find other sources. They are also great for quick facts, statistics, or contact information, and can be useful for learning specific vocabulary. Many contain bibliographies for further reading or additional sources on your topic. They are a great starting point for your research.
Most print reference sources cannot be checked out from the library. However, online reference sources are available on the library's website and can be accessed from home, with your SSU Navigator (current students) or Polaris (faculty/staff) username and password.
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Types of Reference Sources
Types of Reference Sources:
The print Reference Collection is shelved on the first floor facing the Library Help Desk as you enter the library. Online reference collection is available through library databases.
Use to get an overview of a topic or background information, to identify concepts, people and keywords, and to find references for further reading. General encyclopedias are well known, but we also have many subject specific encyclopedias which should not be overlooked. Examples include Encyclopedia of Early Childhood Education , International Encyclopedia of Human Geography , and Encyclopedia of Nursing Education . Online resources: Britannica Library (Encyclopedia) and Funk & Wagnalls of New World Encyclopedia.
Guides and Bibliographies
These provide lists of materials (books, journal articles, etc.) on a subject. Use them to identify references for your research. Bibliographies provide literature on a subject specific or by a specific author. Print Nursing 2019 Drug Handbook. Online resource: Oxford Bibliographies
Works containing brief explanatory entries for terms and topics related to a specific subject or field of inquiry, usually arranged alphabetically. Entries are usually shorter than those found in encyclopedias.
An alphabetical listing of words in a language with their definitions, pronunciation, etymology, and syllabication. Online examples: New Oxford Rhyming Dictionary and Oxford English Dictionary (Links to an external site.) and Links to an external sitand
These sources provide information on the lives of specific people. Usually they are one volume. Examples include Who's Who in America and Twentieth Century British Humorists. Online biographical reference sources: Biography in Context and Biography.com (Links to an external site.) Links to an external site.
Works that present concise factual information on a specific subject. Usually they are one volume. Examples include CRC handbook of chemistry and physics, The Oxford Handbook Of Zooarchaeology , Handbook of American Popular Culture, Handbook of Green Chemistry , and the Business Plans Handbook.
Use to find specific statistical information about a given place and time. Online - Sage Stats database . Print resource - ProQuest statistical abstract of the United States 2019
Chronologies and Timelines
Use these to see what was happening in a particular time and place, or to compare events taking place around the world at the same time. Oxford Reference Timelines.
Alphabetical listings of keywords or phrases found in work of an author or work in a collection of writings. Examples -The Concordance of Federal Legislation and A concordance to Beowulf.
These are collections of maps in book form. In addition to purely geographical atlases, there are specialized ones for a variety of subjects: history, religion, art, architecture, commercial, diseases, sports, exploration, ocean, stars, etc. Atlases are located on the atlas cases in the reference print collection section. Examples are Atlas of World Geography and Atlas of the Great Plains. The Census Atlas of the United States (Links to an external site.) Links to an external site. is available online.
A listing of geographical features and locations, complete with longitude and latitudes, and short descriptions. Examples include the Historical Gazetteer of the United States and the Utah Atlas & Gazetteer.
Yearly compilations of facts, dates, and statistics. They can be general or subject specific. Examples include Library and Book Trade Almanac , World Almanac and Book of Facts 2019, and Old Farmer's Almanac.
A listing of organizations, people, companies, institutions, etc., with a brief description of each including contact information. Online resource ReferenceUSA
Manuals provide"how to" information, such as how to write a correct citation. Examples include The Merck Manual Of Diagnosis And Therapy and Publication Manual of the American Psychological Association, 7th edition.
These are annual documentary, historical, or memorial compendiums of facts, photographs, statistics, and other information from the preceding year, often limited to a specific country, institution, discipline, or subject. Print resource - Broadcasting & cable yearbook
The above types of reference sources list is adapted from Carol Zoppel, Research and Instruction librarian's types of reference sources list.
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# Sources and referencing
All research uses the work of others as its starting point – what we call ‘sources’. Good academic work is characterized by use of relevant, scientific sources and builds on existing knowledge. Without citations to existing research, disciplinary knowledge and relevant information your assignment will be detached from the scholarly community. Any sources you use will help to lay the foundations for the assessment of your text.
The best sources to use will vary from subject to subject, and from assignment to assignment. Relevant sources can be found everywhere: in books, articles, websites, news articles and maps. Use your problem statement as a guide, and ask your tutors, fellow students and researchers within your field to help you find sources that are appropriate for your discipline.
# Why refer to the work of others?
All forms for argumentation which are not based on own material or own reasoning, must always be cited during writing, and in the list of references. This may be others opinion, material of numbers, models, results or conclutions.
To help your reader easily locate your sources, use in-text-citations throughout your text, and collect all the references you have cited in a list at the end. The reason for this is both to make it possible for a reader to check the sources you are using, and to read more about your topic if they wish.
Careful documentation of sources enables the reader to quickly:
- look up the sources themselves
- check facts and the accuracy of your results
- find further information about the topic
Another important reason for using proper citations is to avoid plagiarism. Plagiarism is the use of others’ results, thoughts and ideas as if they were your own. This is considered intellectual theft according to intellectual property laws.
(opens new window) §§ 4-7 and 4-8, this can lead to failing the assignment and expulsion from your module, with potentially severe effects for further studies. All educational institutions are aware of problems related to cheating, and use specific software to detect plagiarism.
← Formal requirements How to cite →
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You reached out and made it to the NMSU Grants Library Research Guide Pages .
Use the following tabs to guide yourself through the research process.
Remember - Research and writing a good paper takes time. Start early, refer to the guides as necessary, and if you need additional assistance be sure to reach out to the campus Librarian .
Writing papers and performing research are and integral part of your education. NMSU Grants Library has a large number of resources and it can be hard to know how to get started. Be sure to look at our Research Guides to see if there is a Subject or Course Guide that will help you.
These guides can point you to the best resources for your research area or course assignment.
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Reference Sources: What They Are and How to Use Them: Home
Subject index, search hiebert library.
- What is a Reference Source?
- What are Reference Sources good for?
- Is it acceptable to cite Reference Sources in a Research Paper?
- Where can Reference Sources be found?
"Reference sources" are used to locate general factual information on a particular topic.They usually are read selectively for specific pieces of information, rather than from beginning to end. Examples of reference sources include:
We realize that the term "reference sources" used this way may be a bit confusing, since your professors might also talk about "references" as a way of describing anything that you might cite in a research paper. Always be sure to ask your professor if you aren't clear on how they're using the term.
What are reference sources good for?
Reference sources often provide an excellent starting point for a research project. They are a good place to find general background and introductory information, specialized terminology, and lists of references for further research. Think of them as a way to find your bearings in a particular subject area before digging into more detailed scholarly sources.
Is it acceptable to cite reference sources in a research paper?
You may have heard professors tell you not to use encyclopedias when writing a research paper. What they probably meant were general reference sources like the Encyclopaedia Britannica or Wikipedia . While even general sources like these can contain useful information, they are not specialized enough to use for academic work. There are, however, other highly specialized reference sources (some of them even called "encyclopedias" or "dictionaries") that might be perfectly appropriate for use in a research project. Such specialized sources are written by experts in their fields and sometimes include quite detailed scholarly treatment of their topics. These can provide an excellent starting point for your research. Always check with your professor to find out whether it's acceptable to use such specialized reference sources as citations in a research paper.
Where can reference sources be found in Hiebert Library?
We've prepared lists of our most useful reference sources, arranged by subject area. Select the appropriate subject area from the list below to see the list for that topic.
The lists are divided by online and print resources. Online reference sources can be accessed simply by clicking on them. The library's print reference section is located near the main circulation desk (just to the right of the desk as you walk through the front gate). Items in the reference section cannot be checked out. They are intended for use in the library only.
- Anabaptist/Mennonite studies
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- Criminal justice & criminology
- Peacemaking & conflict studies
- Physical sciences
- Political science
- Pre-health, nursing, and pharmacy
- Psychology & Marriage/family therapy
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- Spanish language & culture
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What's the difference between and
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Articles, Books, and . . . ? Understanding the Many Types of Information Found in Libraries
- Reference Sources
Dictionaries, almanacs and yearbooks, handbooks and manuals.
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Reference sources are generally the place to begin your research, especially when you're starting out with an unfamiliar field. But they're also where you return when you need to look up formulas, facts, definitions, and other standard details; they tend to pack a lot of information into simple, easy-to-use packages.
Many reference works are available online and are accessible through links from the Library Catalog and from subject or course guides , but many valuable reference resources are still available only in print, and a few highly specialized tools are on microform or CD. Because print-only reference books are in high demand, they are kept in separate, non-circulating reference collections in most UCLA libraries.
Reference sources are rarely peer-reviewed. In fact, because they mostly contain established, factual information, they're sometimes not even cited in academic works, unless directly quoted. Check your style manual for best guidelines.
Primary or Secondary Sources
As compilations of existing information, reference works are decisively in the category of secondary sources... to the point that some people call them tertiary sources .
Because Wikipedia content is anonymous and lacks a formal review process, it's not considered a "scholarly source," and most professors don't accept Wikipedia citations in papers. That said, Wikipedia does increasingly cite sources, so you can use it to lead you to sources which you can cite.
Encyclopedias attempt to provide comprehensive summaries of knowledge in either a specific field (subject encyclopedias) or "everything" (general encyclopedias). Encyclopedias are typically divided into a collection of articles on discrete topics. Academically oriented encyclopedias will often include short bibliographies, making them a good resource for identifying key books and articles on a topic.
- Online Encyclopedias
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- Subject dictionaries: define technical terms in specific fields, sometimes in as much detail as an encyclopedia
- Bilingual dictionaries: define words in a different language
- Thesauri: provide synonyms
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- Major Online Dictionaries
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Both "handbook" and "manual" refer to the traditional small size of the volumes, designed to fit in one hand for ease of use. Despite this origin, many modern handbooks are quite hefty!
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- Find print handbooks in the Library Catalog Search "[subject] handbooks" within Subject List.
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Items within a reference page/list are sometimes called sources, references or citations. In-text citations appear inside a paper and tell the
A reference gives the readers details about the source so that they have a good understanding of what kind of source it is and could find the source themselves
The source of a quotation is the place (book, newspaper, website etc.) from which you took the material quoted. The reference is your listing of
Each in-text citation connects to a source citation in your references. References will be found at the end of the work. They are on their own page with a title
Reference sources generally summarize topics or assists in finding secondary literature. These sources provide background information or help
# Sources and referencing ... All research uses the work of others as its starting point – what we call 'sources'. Good academic work is
In Works Cited and References, you only list items you have actually referred to and cited in your paper. A Bibliography, meanwhile, lists all
What is a Reference Source? ... "Reference sources" are used to locate general factual information on a particular topic.They usually are read
is that source is the person, place, or thing from which something (information, goods, etc.) comes or is acquired while reference is a relationship or relation
Reference sources are generally the place to begin your research, especially when you're starting out with an unfamiliar field.