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Harvard Referencing - The Basics

Introduction to the Harvard Referencing style

Referencing is...

'a standardised method of acknowledging sources of information and ideas that you have used in your assignments, in a way that uniquely identifies their source. Direct quotations, facts and figures, as well as ideas and theories, from both published and unpublished works, must be referenced'
                                                                     (Curtin University Library, 2020)

Why Reference?

It is standard practice at third-level to include references in all of your assignments. Good research and good referencing go hand in hand. Referencing is the process of linking what you have read to what you have written. 

What this means is that in order to do good research, you need to reference any words, ideas or images you have used in your assignment that are not your own original thoughts. You will be quoting, paraphrasing and summarising your sources throughout the essay, and compiling a full list of them at the end - more about all of this in the next section...

By learning how to reference properly, you are showing your lecturer that you:

  • have read around your subject area 
  • are acknowledging the sources you have used, and, 
  • are protecting yourself from any charges of copying or plagiarism

A good reference list is the sign of a quality assignment. It provides evidence to your lecturer that you researched your topic well. Once you know how to reference, you are on your way to becoming a proper researcher!

(Pretorius, 2015)

Harvard Referencing Style

The Harvard Referencing Style (sometimes called the Author-Date style) is the recommended referencing style at TUS: Midwest. Check with your lecturer if you are unsure what style to use as there may be some variations depending on your subject areas. 

There are two elements to any reference using the Harvard Style:

  1. An in-text citation within the text, and,
  2. A full reference at the end.

This means when you reference using the Harvard Style, you have to do two things: 

  1. Include an Author-Date citation each time you refer to a source in the body of your essay.
    (Note: also, include the page number if it is a direct quote)
  2. Compile a complete Reference List of all the sources that you cited throughout your essay at the end of your essay.
    (Note: this list must be in alphabetical order according to the first author's surname)

(George, 2017)


(Herriot-Watt University, 2015)

The Library, Technological University of the Shannon: Midwest