Harvard referencing style usage

How to use Harvard referencing style

The Harvard referencing style is one of the most widely used referencing systems in academic manuscripts. 

It easy flexible and easy to use. However, its adaptability means that different universities may use different versions of Harvard. Therefore, academic students and authors are strongly advised to consult their own university’s style guide, and above all, be consistent. 

The following is a brief explanation of some general rules regarding how to use the Harvard referencing system.

1. In-text citations

There are two ways of presenting in-text citations: one is where you want to emphasise the information or argument, and the other where you want to emphasise the author.  

An example of the first is:

The experiment verified the hypothesis outlined in the previous chapter (Brown, 2015). 

The second is:

Although it has not been universally accepted, Brown (2015) claimed that the experiment verified the hypothesis outlined in the previous chapter. 

2. Citations according to the number of authors

Where one author is cited, is it simple:

Within the text: (Smith, 1998).

In the reference list or bibliography: Smith, W.A. 1996. A new way of understanding statistics. 2nd edn. University of Anytown Press.

Where there are two authors:

Within the text: (Evans and Parker, 2014)

In the reference list or bibliography: Evans, K. and Parker, G. 2014. (then as in the example above). 

Where there are three authors:

Within the text: on the first occasion: (Evans, Parker and Green, 1990).

                         on subsequent occasions: (Evans et al., 1990).

In the reference list or bibliography: Evans, K., Parker, G and Green R. 2014 ….. 

Where there are four or more authors:

Within the text (for every occasion): (Evans et al., 1990).

In the reference list or bibliography: Evans, K., Parker, G, Green R. and Murphy H. 2014 …..

Or: Evans, K. et al., 2014. … 

It is important to note that some variations of Harvard use ‘&’ instead of ‘and’; also, some versions italicise et al. It is important to check the style guide of your own university, and in all circumstances to be consistent. 

Whether it is italicised or not, et al. should always be followed by a full stop. 

3. Direct quotations

There are two ways of dealing with direct quotations in Harvard according to the length of the quoted text. A quotation of fewer than 40 words is included as part of a sentence and enclosed in double quotation marks. For example:

Williams (2009) asserts that, “The interview process will not be successful if fewer than 20 participants are interviewed” (p.62). 

Where a quotation is 40 words or over, the quoted words are indented and in a separate paragraph, but quotation marks are not used. For example. 

With regard to the interviews, Williams (2009, p.62) said: 

The interviews were not successful because only seven people participated. This sample was too small to give any kind of accurate result. It was also not sufficiently balanced; for instance, five were men and two were women. Moreover, the age range was badly balanced, with six participants over the age of 50 and only one under 50. 

Note: Page numbers (as shown above) should be included in both short and long quotations. No attempt should be made to change any quoted text as this would be considered by the author to be misquotation. However, if the quoted text is paraphrased, the quotation marks should be removed but the meaning should be retained. Some versions of Harvard may use single quotes, rather than double ones. Again, this shows the importance of consulting the specific style guide of your university and maintaining consistency.  

4. Reference lists and bibliographies

Although reference lists and bibliographies have a similar purpose, they are not the same, and the terms are not interchangeable. 

A reference list gives details of all the works that you have made reference to in the text, while a bibliography gives details of all the works you have consulted in your research whether or not you have referred to them in the text. 

It is usually not necessary to include a reference list and a bibliography, so you should consult your university style guide as to which is required. In reference lists and bibliographies, the list should be in alphabetical order of the surname of the author. Usually, the name of the book or article should be in italics; also, the date of publication and the date published, as well as the name of the publisher should be included. Please see Section 1 (above). 

5. Other points

If you quote two (or more) works published by the same author in the same year, you should use the format:

Smith (2010a; 2010b) in the text.  

And in the reference list:

Smith W. (2010a). A guide to conducting and interview. Anytown University Press.

Smith W. (2010b). How to analyse the findings from an interview. Another University Press. 

If you are uncertain as to whether you have applied the correct rules of the Harvard referencing style in your thesis or dissertation, get in touch with us today via email or WhatsApp on 00447717750188.

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