In scholarly writing and publishing, a reference provides information necessary for readers to track the original source referred to in that particular article. Regardless of the referencing style, a reference generally consists of the author names, the title of the article, and the journal-title, followed by the year of publication, volume number, issue number and page numbers. In lay terms, the process of directing the readers to the different sources of information supporting an idea, argument or concept, and acknowledging the authors is known as referencing. Simultaneously, a citation is a common and essential practice in scientific writing that offers credit to authors for their unconventional work that another researcher uses.
Role of References and Citations
Citing is a common practice of referring to others’ concepts, thoughts, or ideas, acknowledging others’ work, and supporting an argument. Moreover, citations are used to differentiate one’s work from other authors’ work, and to direct readers to the original source of information. However, regardless of its significance, the citation may be the least noticed aspect of a scientific manuscript. When it comes to science, accuracy plays a vital role in writing. The act of looking up a reference for verification serves as a checkpoint of appropriateness. Thus, referencing serves as a fact-checking tool. However, improper attribution of references might occasionally go unchecked. In the literature, citation errors such as errors in the bibliography and misquotations are often prevalent. Evidence suggests that the prevalence of misquotations in various journals is up to 20%, wherein approximately 70% of the references of published papers have at least one error.
The reference indicates and thereby differentiates whether the information discussed is original or inspired and thus acquired from others’ work. Alongside a vital role in acknowledging a previous work, a reference highlights the new research supporting the authors’ claim. While helping the readers refer back to the original source, a reference also indicates the work’s quality (for instance, a published article in a well-reputed journal and an unpublished opinion piece on an online website). A reference also facilitates the reader to estimate whether the included data is the most recent about the topic. From this background, the author would like to highlight two important issues and their consequences and the possible solutions that are overlooked when quoting a reference and a citation.