Proper referencing is important in academic writing. You should know when to use references and how implement the references in a text.

When do you need a reference?

How to implement references

There are many reference styles used in practices. Most journals have their own individual reference style, so the main issue is to chose a reference style and next to implement. In my practice, I often refer to the Journal of Financial Economics reference style.

Most reference styles make use of the Orwell (1984) type of reference: the name of the author followed by the year of the publication in round brackets.

At the end of the thesis, you will present all these references together in one list with the details of each publication. Depending on the reference style, this includes the last name of author, first name(s) or initials, title of the publication, name of the journal, volume number, issue number, and page numbers. There are also specific rules on how to present books, working papers and website in the reference list.

While the style of choice is at the discretion of the writer (actually the publisher), consistency is the main thing to be aware of and the devil is in the details:

Consider the following example of a part of a reference list:

Asquith, P., R. Bruner, and D. Mullins, Jr., 1987, “Merger Returns and the Form of Financing,” Harvard University Working Paper
Bowman, Robert G., 2006 ‘Understanding and conducting event studies’ Journal of Business Finance & Accounting, Vol. 10, No.4, pp. 561-581.
Corrado, C. J. 1989. A nonparametric test for abnormal security-price performance in event studies. Journal of Financial Economics, 23(2), 385–395.

This example of a reference list contains several inconsistencies (list may not be exhaustive):

  • While the second and the third conclude with a point (.), the first does not.
  • The year in the firs reference is followed by a comma, the second is concluded with nothing, and the third is concluded with a point.
  • The first and the third references have initials of the authors, while the second reference has first names.
  • The first reference has double hyphens (“), the second reference has single hyphens (‘) and the third reference has no hyphens.
  • The second and the third reference use different ways to present volume and issue numbers
  • The second and third reference use different ways to present page numbers.
  • The first reference uses capitals to start each single noun in the title, while the second and third reference do not have this.

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