Referencing in first year report


I've just joined this forum, as I was searching for some help on how to reference in my first year report (for transfer from MSc to PhD).

I thought I had referenced ok, but my supervisor is telling me I really need to go back to all the original literature...but Im finding it a bit of a struggle trying to figure out which statments actually need referencing, which I can use a recent review for, and which I actually need to go back to the original literature for.

Has anyone got any basic advice on what to reference, and what not to reference? i.e. do I need to reference things which are common knowledge in my field of research? Or any websites with useful advice would be good!



TBH, you'd be better off discussing this with your supervisor. That's what they are there for i.e. to guide you in your research, especially in the early stages so don't feel awkward about asking for help or clarification. They will be in the best position to give you advice that is specific to your discipline and your project.


To give you some very general advice, always use original sources where possible. Where you haven't been able to locate the original source (or when it's not really necessary as it's not a key reference for your project), make sure you make the reader know that you are referencing a secondary source. e.g. if you read in a review (written by Smith et al, 2007) that Jones et al, 2005 report blah, then you would cite it as

blah (Jones et al, 2005 cited by Smith et al, 2007)

As for what you need to reference...well, if in doubt, reference. If it's a very clear and obvious statement known to all likely to be reading your work, then you don't need to reference.

Good luck!!


You should really reference anything that is not your own work and thoughts.

Make sure you check which format you need to do the referencing in (if you haven't already).