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Following the right conventions

Different disciplines have developed different referencing conventions. You might notice that scientific and engineering disciplines tend to highlight the date that a work was published whereas arts and humanities disciplines tend to highlight the author or the title. Often in Science the focus is on the most up-to-date work in the field, whereas work in the humanities can still retain its validity after hundreds or thousands of years.

Depending on the range of subjects you are doing you may encounter several complete systems of referencing — including several footnote systems, or author-date systems like the Harvard system. When you first encounter these differences they might seem totally arbitrary and merely designed to confuse. But you will need to work within the conventions followed by scholars within a particular area of study.

The Library citing and referencing tutorial Opens in a new window includes the various referencing styles recommended by Monash University faculty, schools or departments Opens in a new window.

Language and Learning Online also has a list of QuickRef handouts on referencing.

It is always a good idea to check with your lecturer about conventions in a particular subject. If you are a postgraduate, your supervisor will advise you — and you will get used to using the conventions as you submit papers to journals with their own style requirements. The main principle in referencing and citation is to be consistent, to follow a set pattern, and to make it easy for the reader.

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