What is Oxford referencing?
The Oxford referencing style is a note citation system developed by the prestigious University of Oxford. It is also sometimes referred to as the documentary-note style. It consists of two elements; footnote citations and a reference list at the end of the document.
If you’ve been asked to make citations in the Oxford referencing style then make sure you follow the guidelines exactly as it can directly impact on the grades you get. Good referencing is a basis for good marks.
How to Oxford reference
To create the footnotes, you need to indicate a reference by putting a superscript number directly following the source material – this number is called the note identifier. You follow this up with a footnote citation at the bottom of the page. The note identifier – often known as an in-text citation – and the footnote should have the same number, thus ensuring the reader knows which source the note identifier is referring to. The footnotes and note identifiers should be in numerical and chronological order. The same number should be attached to the beginning of the citation and should be listed in chronological order.
For the reference list, you need to include the names of the authors, title and date of publication, the name of the publisher and place of publication. Remember to list all the sources you’ve referenced in the footnotes, as well as any other sources that informed your work which you didn’t necessarily quote or paraphrase.
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Oxford referencing example
The sky is blue.1
1 Stella Cottrell, The Study Skills Handbook (Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan, 2013).
Reference list example:
Cottrell, Stella, The Study Skills Handbook (Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan, 2013)
Giving credit to the authors of the ideas and interpretations you cite not only accords recognition to their labours, but also provides a solid theoretical basis for your own argument. Your ideas will gain credence if they are supported by the work of respected writers.
Transparent source use allows you to situate your work within the debates in your field, and to demonstrate the ways in which your work is original. It also gives your reader the opportunity to pursue a topic further, or to check the validity of your interpretations.
When writing you should consider the ways in which your work depends upon or develops from other research, and then signal this with the appropriate citation. Make clear your reasons for citing a source. When paraphrasing an idea or interpretation you must ensure that your writing is not too closely derived from the original, and you must also acknowledge the original author.
There are numerous different referencing systems in use across the University, but there should be clear instructions about referencing practice in your subject handbook. Your tutor can direct you to an appropriate style guide, while there is also a range of software that you can use to keep track of your sources and automatically format your footnotes and bibliography (e.g. EndNote, Reference Manager, ProCite).
Be meticulous when taking notes: include full citation details for all the sources you consult and remember to record relevant page numbers. Citation practice varies but, depending on the type of text cited (book, conference paper, chapter in an edited volume, journal article, e-print, etc.) the elements of a reference include:
- title of the book or article
- title of the journal or other work
- name of the conference
- place of publication
- date of publication
- page numbers
- date accessed.
When using e-print archives you should bear in mind that many contain articles which have not yet been submitted for peer review. It is good practice to review the later, published versions for important changes before submitting your own extended essay or dissertation.
It is sensible to get into the habit of referencing all your work so that you learn the techniques from the start. Leaving all the footnotes until the week your dissertation is due is a recipe for disaster. One of the best ways to learn referencing practice is to imitate examples in your subject, and to seek advice from your tutor in cases of difficulty.