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Politics and international relations: Citing references

A guide to finding information in politics and international relations. Includes links to key resources and sources of help.

General guidance

Whenever you refer to another person's work in your own essay, dissertation or article you must acknowledge them and give full details of your source. You risk being accused of plagiarism if you fail to do so.

The Department of Politics and International Relations accepts any adequate system of referencing, especially Harvard or Oxford style. For general information on referencing, including an explanation of different citation systems, and guidance on citing specific types of publication, see our Citing references guide.

For help with citing specific types of publication contact your subject librarian, Gordon Connell.

For advice on using references in your work, and how to use them to support your arguments, pop in to see the Department's ASK Study Adviser. Alternatively consult the guidance on the Study Advice website or make an appointment with them.

Harvard referencing

Also known as 'author-date' style. In Harvard style the in-text citation can be in brackets in the body of the text or in footnotes, and uses the author's surname and the date of publication, with the page number if it is a reference to a particular page. Full details are only listed in the bibliography or reference list.

Note that because Harvard is a 'style' rather than a system or set of rules, the preferred punctuation and formatting of the text may differ. Check for any examples in your course handbook, and if they are not available, be consistent.

Example for book:

In-text: (Shriver and Atkins, 1999)

In bibliography: Shriver, D.F. and Atkins, P.W. (1999). Inorganic chemistry. 3rd ed. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

Example for website:

In-text: (National Autistic Society, 2014)

In bibliography: National Autistic Society (2014) Recognising autism spectrum disorder, online at, accessed 23/07/14.

For more information (but always check your course handbook first):

Oxford referencing

In Oxford referencing, in-text citations are in footnotes. Full details should be included in the footnotes for the first mention of a text. After this, a shortened version can be used.

Example for book:

In-text, first mention: (in footnote) Jonathan Bell, The Liberal State on Trial: The Cold War and American Politics in the Truman Years (New York, 2004) p.3.

In-text, following mentions: (in footnote) Bell, The Liberal State on Trial, p. 36.

In bibliography: Jonathan Bell, The Liberal State on Trial: The Cold War and American Politics in the Truman Years (New York, 2004).

For more information (but always check your course handbook first):


EndNote logoWhen you do your dissertation you could consider using EndNote to manage your references. This bibliographic management package can be used to store references, and then insert the citation in your Word document, automatically building the bibliography for you in the correct style.

Find out more on our EndNote webpages:

For information on other options for electronic management of your references see our guide to Managing references: