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Legal Referencing

A Guide for students on how to approach legal referencing in Coursework Assignments

Angus MacCulloch

on 6 May 2015

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Transcript of Legal Referencing


How to take ownership of the referencing problem
Referencing is an ongoing battle for everyone in academia; for both students and academics.
This presentation is designed to give you an insight into how you might approach referencing in law coursework, and how to make referencing a normal part of how you work
Referencing Isn't an Event
The biggest mistake that many students make is thinking that referencing for a Coursework is an event:
It isn't!
Good referencing is really part of the research process
It is something you should be thinking about every time you read a source
By the time you actually write your Coursework the referencing should be practically complete
When I pick up a resource what should I do?
If you are reading a resource you must think it might be useful for something!
You should treat it as if it might be ...

If you start taking a note, or you copy the resource, make sure you write
on the front page
all the information you will need to reference it later.

This habit has two important benefits.
A Guide by Angus MacCulloch,
Lancaster University Law School

It get's you used to referencing ...
Lancaster Uni Law School generally suggests you follow the OSCOLA referencing style.

Using it frequently, on a day to day basis, will help you get used to how referencing conventions work.

Only professional editors know the whole of OSCOLA, but you'll want to be able to use the main forms of reference (cases, statutes, books and journals) without having to refer back to the Guides.
You will have the full reference available ...
If you have written the full reference on the front of any copies or notes you have, you will have that reference to hand should you ever wish to refer to that work in future.

That is why you should always think of referencing as part of the 'Research' stage of your work; not something you do as part of 'Writing Up' or as a separate exercise of 'Referencing'
Why do you need all this 'stuff' anyway?
Before you can properly understand how to use references properly it helps to think why references are so important ...

Their main purpose is to help the reader of your work
Not just to avoid an accusation of plagiarism

If the reader of the work is interested, or confused, by what you say they can look up the source of your argument
A good reference has two purposes
First, to give credit to the original author
This recognises them as the originator of that idea, and gives them proper acknowledgment.

Second, to point the reader directly to the relevant material
This allows the reader to find the original source quickly and with minimum fuss.
How much detail do I need?
To indicate how specific a reference should be let's use an example
That would refer to the book as a whole, but how often are you referring to the whole book?
For instance, this is a collection of essays - am I referring to all of the essays?
What if I want to highlight a Particular Essay?
Then you need to be more specific - if you want to refer to the whole of one essay ...
But even that might not be enough, you will often want to refer only to a particular point, statement or idea.
What's a 'Pinpoint'?
If you want to specifically point a reader to a particular idea you really need to use a 'pinpoint' with your reference; which can be to a page (or pages), or paragraph.
How do I get all the information?
You should have all this to hand from your research!
You did read everything you are now citing - didn't you ...

In many ways it is often easier to work from the original source which has all the pagination, but if you prefer to use notes make sure you jot down the key pagination as you go.
Making Referencing Easy
The two things you should take away are that:

First, you need to think of gathering references as central to the research leading up to a piece of work. It should be a part of everything you do while studying. The later you leave it the more difficult it will be.

Second, good references are very specific. The bibliography should list sources, a reference should refer to a particular statement or idea.
Pinpoints in Cases work the same way. You refer to a paragraph in newer cases, or pages where there aren't numbered paragraphs.
What we can't do today ...
This presentation isn't designed to take you through examples of all the different conventions which deal with referencing different types of legal material from different legal systems.
All that detail can be found in OSCOLA itself and you need to familairise yourself with it as you use an increasing range of sources
Handling a wide range of resources, including their referencing, is one of the skills you need to develop as you progress through your degree
Some other useful pointers ...
There are another set of useful tips and tricks that might help you deal with references more effectively. They cover a few issues:
Handling repeated references
Handling multiple references
What should be in the footnotes and in my Bibliography?
Reference handling software and solutions
Handling repeated references
Often you'll need to refer to the same source several times in succession.
You don't need to use the full reference each time.
This example has a case citation, a subsequent reference, and a subsequent reference with a pinpoint
'Ibid' is only used when the full reference is in the immediately proceeding notes, without any other references 'breaking' the chain.
Handling Multiple References
Sometimes you'll need to refer to a key source at several points in a Coursework.
You'll always give the full reference the first time you refer to the source, but you don't need to use a full reference every time thereafter.
The full citation is in n 15, and the 'cross-reference' in n 25 uses a shortened name, refers back to the full citation, and adds a pinpoint.
Cross-References: Using Word
If you are using cross-references Word has a useful feature to make sure that you references automatically update to make sure they always 'point' to the right note.
In the references ribbon, you insert footnotes from the box on the left, and can add cross-references from the box on the right.
Footnotes and Bibliography
Footnotes should be used to give reference to any material that you directly cite or use as authority for points or statements you make in you coursework
The Bibliography should contain a list of all the materials you used in the preparation of your Coursework. The list should be presented alphabetically by author.
The footnote materials and your Bibliography don't need to be identical, but they should be very similar.
If you have not referred directly to a source in your Coursework have you really used it your research?
Reference Handling Solutions
If you are planning to undertake a big project, perhaps an UG dissertation, it might be interesting to look into specialist referencing solutions.
They help by keeping all your references in one software application which then 'plugs-in' to Word.
The best known examples are Endnote and Zotero.
If you are going use such a system you need to make sure you use it from 'Day One' of the project.
Things to Remember
Referencing is an integral part of all academic research; not something you do after writing a Coursework
Familiarise yourself with the referencing conventions in OSCOLA. The guide is quite easy to use.
Get used to using Word's footnote and cross-reference features to make your life easier.
OSCOLA and Turnitin ...
OSCOLA gives good guidance on all forms of referencing. We suggest you follow OSCOLA in the majority of circumstances, but with one exception ...

Many pieces of Coursework will be submitted to the Turnitin system. It only recognises a quotation if it is inside double quotation marks (").
We therefore suggest you always use "double quotes" for all direct quotations in you coursework.
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