1. Each fact, statement of opinion or citation to the work of others must be referenced.
This means that when using the annual reports you are also required to show this is in your work – this extends to figures in graphs and charts. Usually graphs have been imported from a spreadsheet included in the appendices so in this particular case you can normally cite (Source: Appendix 3) etc. under the graph PROVIDED that Appendix 3 shows the information has been taken from the annual company’s annual report and this is appropriately referenced in your list (see Rule 7).
2. References should show what is being referenced.
This means the reference should be in the text next to the actual point being referenced and actually forms part of the sentence. Do NOT ‘stack’ references up at the end of the sentence or paragraph unless the last sentence only is being referred to AND all of the references cited are referring to that particular point.
Example 1 ‘A counter-argument can be found in the theories of motivation-based reasoning (Kunda, 1990) and pre-decisional distortion of decision-relevant information (Bond et al., 2007; Russo et al., 1996).’
Here the first reference refers to the idea of motivation-based reasoning but there are two separate groups of researchers who have looked at another distinct area of research but not the first and proposed a different theory. (It would be completely wrong to put all 3 references at the end of the sentence/paragraph as it would convey that their work all supported the same areas and theories).
3. References should have clear ‘designators’
A reference usually comprises the name of the author(s) if known (as in Example 1 above) and year – these two elements together are known as the ‘designator’. If the author is not known then the name of the publication can be used. Problems arise where the information has been taken from a website. Where possible in these circumstances use the website name in place of the author: if for example you were citing from Open Tuition you could use (Open Tuition) or (opentuition.com) for the first part of the designator and either the year (if known) or n.d. (no date). Note: Markers are not totally happy if they see the complete website address in the text itself (but as we will see later the website address must be shown in the Reference list)
4. Each different document referred to must have its own unique designator
If for example you are using several different articles from the same newspaper in the same year you MUST distinguish between the various articles. You do this by using ‘appendages’ added to the year e.g. 2015(a), 2015(b) 2015(c). If during the course of your work you refer to the same document more than once then you should always use the same designator as used previously (so do not change it to a different appendage from the one given originally).
5. Designators MUST match
Part of the purpose of referencing is that the reader can actually find the full details of anything referenced in the text easily in the Reference list. If you change the designator you used in the text when listing it, this becomes difficult if not impossible. Also be consistent – if you used (Open Tuition, n.d.) in the text then ensure that Open Tuition (n.d.) is how you list it and so don’t change it to opentuition.com (n.d). Try to be succinct in the use of designators – remember the full title of the article/paper goes in the reference list – not the report itself, so just use the author’s family name e.g. (Williamson, 2019) in the text, or where referring to a document issued by a regulator such as a UK corporate governance code, where you could use (FRC, 2018) for the UK 2018 Code listing it as:
FRC (2018) – Financial Reporting Council, The UK Corporate Governance Code 2018, published July 2018 available at https://www.frc.org.uk/getattachment/88bd8c45-50ea-4841-95b0-d2f4f48069a2/2018-UK-Corporate-Governance-Code-FINAL.pdf
6. The Reference List must be systematic
Your list should be in alphabetical order randomly listing items will confound the reader (and really irritate the marker). It is permissible to use a numeric system provided the same numbers have also been used in the text. It is also permissible to use a subscript / footnote system so that all your references are shown at the bottom of the relevant page. Provided you are systematic and do not swap between systems, you cannot be failed for your OBU RAP for doing this (but as Harvard is preferred by academic institutions and Oxford Brookes, this method as standard is advised).
7. The information provided in the text and list should be sufficient to locate the exact document
It is therefore unacceptable just to list a ubiquitous website address such as www.marksandspencer.com If you have used information from a specific document then you need to provide the link for the marker e.g.
The reference in the text may have been (M & S, 2015) and therefore in accordance with Rule 5 you must show M & S (2015) in your reference list but you should follow this with an explanation of what the document is e.g Annual report 2015, followed by the link and the latest date you accessed it.
8. Items in the list should appear once and only once
Although you may cite from the same document numerous times in your text it must have only one entry in the list.
9. Using many references from a long document or book
Normally when doing academic work you are expected to cite the relevant page for a document that is longer than about 12 pages. The rules for the RAP are not so strict. However you should distinguish between the annual report and the CEO statement / directors’ reports. So when citing figures it is fine just to refer the reader to the annual report (as the assumption is that these are from a limited number of pages such as the Income statement /Balance sheet etc.) however for written information from the report you are advised to include the relevant page number in the text.
Example 2 M & Sintroduced two important technological innovations during 2014/15 and whilst the Chairman conceded that such large scale projects are not without their teething problems he admitted that the company experienced greater problems than those expected (M & S, 2015 p.4)
This way only one listing is required (which is correct as it complies with Rule 8) and as mentioned previously the full link has been included for the relevant annual report so with the page number the marker can very easily find this reference.
10. Using Direct Quotations
Although you will be referencing sources you are advised NOT to make many direct quotations. Occasionally direct citations are unavoidable but you must be VERY selective and ensure that quotation marks are used as well as a reference and that their use is kept to the minimum. This is because just citing passages from other people’s work does not demonstrate any real understanding. Frequent use of direct citations (whether referenced or not) will result in a failure for ‘bad academic practice’. Instead you should learn to paraphrase and precis information so that you are demonstrating use of a source rather than just the ‘skill’ of being able to ‘copy and paste’. For example I reworded and edited the passage in Example 2 rather than just copying and pasting the whole paragraph:
“We implemented two crucial pieces of infrastructure: our new M&S.com website and our automated distribution centre at Castle Donington, two of the largest projects of their kind in Europe. Whilst projects of this scale are likely to experience some initial performance issues, these were greater than we anticipated.”
Frequent use of direct citations (Rule 10) will invariably result in failure regardless of whether you have used citation marks for such passages and they are fully referenced or not. ‘Bad Academic Practice’ is a cardinal sin as far as all universities are concerned and the OBU marking team is no exception. The electronic checking system will have conveniently identified (or inconveniently as far as the student is concerned) all of those passages for the marker to see (and just changing a few of the words will not alter this as it will just highlight the actual words that have been changed). The program will also have ‘helpfully’ calculated the total amount of such instances in your work. The marker therefore has a fairly accurate idea of how much work has been copied and pasted into the RAP and although they will ignore a low score they certainly won’t if they consider that your work has been patch-written and is just a compendium of passages and comments copied and pasted from elsewhere.
There are 3 general exceptions where making direct citations may be permissible:
- When citing from specific Corporate Governance Codes, legislation/ Acts of Parliament and theorems. Precise wording may be necessary to avoid changing the nuance or meaning from that which the original drafter of such documents or author meant.
- When you wish to emphasise a particular opinion taken by a researcher/author ‘ Ofwat found the Southern Water case was ‘shocking” and ‘the co-ordinated efforts to hide and deceive customers of the fact… troubling’ (Ofwat, 2019)
- When making comparisons between approaches and stances taken by different researchers or analysts e.g. this extract from an academic paper [note the use of italics to distinguish the direct citation from the rest of the text.
One reason that budgets may be retained in most firms is because they are so deeply ingrained in an organization’s fabric (Scapens and Roberts 1993). “They remain a centrally coordinated activity (often the only one) within the business” and constitute “the only process that covers all areas of organizational activity” (Neely et al. 2001, Otley 1999).
If you follow the above Golden Rules then you should have no problems with your work and it should pass the section ‘Information Gathering and Referencing’ (provided you have demonstrated adequate use of a variety of sources to satisfy these requirements –see Appendix 3 of the Info Pack).
The markers do not expect 100% perfection, so don’t fret unnecessarily about whether a comma or full stop is in the wrong place. What they are looking for is evidence that you understand and appreciate the importance of referencing, you are able to show this both in your written work and demonstrate it when constructing your list and you have been systematic so will overlook the occasional lapse, omission or inaccuracy – emphasis on the word ‘occasional’. However consistently stacking references up at the end of the paragraph (or worse still positioning them so that there is line spacing and they are ‘hanging’ under a long passage), changing designators and making the marker search to find items in the list will all incur ‘black marks’. If there are cumulative mistakes like this the marker will then conclude that you do not really understand the basics of referencing.