Harvard Referencing Style: Origins, Uses and Purposes | Free Essay Example

Harvard Referencing Style: Origins, Uses and Purposes

Words: 608
Topic: Education


Though the principle of parenthetical referencing is used not only in the Harvard referencing system but also in a range of other ones, APA is the most well-known specimen on those, Harvard referencing is considered a prime example of the phenomenon. According to the existing data, the Harvard referencing style emerged owing to the efforts of Edward Laurens Mark. A professor of anatomy and a zoologist, Mark created a range of articles.

In one of those, he cited a paper by another scientist and noted the source of the citation on page 194. Since then, the parenthetical reference to a specific work with the mentioning of the author’s last name and the year, in which the work was published, has been considered the prime example of a proper referencing. The name itself, however, dates back to 1945, when one of the visitors of the university was impressed with the system beyond belief (‘APA style: quick guide references’ 2014, p. 1).


The significance of a referencing system as a phenomenon is obvious. While a lot of students consider the Harvard system very complex and contrived, seeing that it incorporates a number of rules, it, in fact, is a very efficient method of in-text citation and compiling a bibliography list. Though referencing style application is associated with the location of citations, for the most part, the concept of a referencing style is, in fact, much wider. It embraces the phenomenon of paper formatting as well; in other words, the usage of a specific referencing style presupposes that the paper must incorporate certain elements, i.e., an abstract, page numbers, a page header, etc.

For instance, it is characteristic of the APA referencing style to include an abstract and a page header in the paper. For MLA, it is imperative that the student’s name, the name of the instructor, the date and the course number should be listed at the top of the paper. As far as the Harvard referencing style is concerned, demands may vary depending on the institution; for example, the American standards for Harvard (‘Harvard AGPS referencing guide’ 2014, para. 3) differ greatly from the British ones (Staffordshire University 2012, p. 2).


Referencing, as a phenomenon is quite simple. The key purpose of referencing is to prove one’s point by supporting it with the evidence found in other sources. In other words, from the perspective of a researcher, referencing is a basic tool for adding more credibility to the paper. When viewing the process of referencing from the position of the author of an article quoted or cited in the text, one must mention the copyright issues. Indeed, referring to a specific work and its results without acknowledging the author is plagiarism, i.e., a punishable action, Therefore, referencing a specific source in a proper manner, i.e., in accordance with one of the existing referencing styles, is a major step towards recognizing one’s authorship.

Finally, referencing helps the researcher see the progress that has been made, i.e., create a map of the links that the paper including references has to the existing studies and, therefore, have an idea of how far the study has advanced. It is essential to take the key studies carried out in the given domain into account when writing research, and a proper referencing style helps create a map of the existing studies.

By using a referencing style properly, one will be able to advance in their research impressively. The skill of citing and quoting resources the right way is an essential part of being a researcher. Once mastering the art of referencing, one will be able to carry out major studies successfully.

Reference List

‘APA style: quick guide references’ 2014, University of Essex, Web.

‘Harvard AGPS referencing guide’ 2014, University of Queensland, Web.

Staffordshire University 2012, Information services: academic skills know-how, Web.