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Philosophy: Citing references

A guide to finding information in philosophy. 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.

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.

The Department of Philosophy does not specify a particular style of referencing. The guidance given on this guide is for the Harvard style of referencing. For help with citing specific types of publication contact your Academic Liaison Librarian.

For advice on using references in your work, and how to use them to support your arguments, consult the guidance on the Study Advice website or make an appointment with them.

Citation examples

The examples in this box use the Harvard referencing system. This is an adaptable referencing system and you may see slight differences between the Harvard style used by one University Department, compared with another. The key is to stick with one version and be consistent.

This box contains reference examples of the most common publication types. For further help with citing specific types of publication, contact your Academic Liaison Librarian or consult the book, Cite them right by Richard Pears & Graham Shields, or the Harvard referencing guide produced by Anglia Ruskin University Library.

Book with a single author

Citation in the text:            Goldman (2013) stated….. or “…value of such works lies in their capacity to challenge" (Goldman, 2013, p. 82).

Reference in the bibliography:     

Goldman, A. (2013) Philosophy and the novel. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

Book chapter

Citation in the text:               “….. (Judson, 2010).”

Reference in the bibliography:    

Judson, L. (2010) 'Carried away in the Euthyphro', in David, C. (ed.) Definition in Greek philosophy. Oxford: Oxford University Press, pp. 31-60

Please note that the journal issue number within a volume (if needed) is within brackets. For online articles, there is no need to give the DOI or URL, unless the article is only available online.

Journal article with a single author (available in print and online)

Citation in the text:        ... (Dixon, 2021)

Reference in the bibliography:   

Dixon, J. (2021) 'Moral disagreement scepticism leveled', Ratio 34(3), pp. 203-216.

Journal article with a single author (online only)

Kubala, R. (2020) 'Aesthetic obligations', Philosophy Compass 15(12), e12712. Available at: (Accessed: 13 December 2021).

You should avoid citing webpages unless you are clear of their quality and suitability for inclusion in academic work. See the 'Websites' tab within this guide for more information on evaluating webpages.

Where citation of a web-based source is necessary, adopt the following format and citation order in the Bibliography:

Author/Organisation [if identifiable] (year) Title of article/webpage [in italics]. Available at: http: // internet address (Accessed: Day Month Year). 

The citation in the text should be by author and date, as with other sources, though problems can occur where there is no obvious author (see below).     

Citation in the text:    “….. (Wenar, 2011)

Reference in the bibliography:    

Wenar, L. (2020) 'Rights', in Zalta, E. N. (ed.) Standford Encyclopedia of Philosophy. Available at: (Accessed 13 December 2021).

Can't identify the author?

If you can identify the organisation responsible for the website, then use their name as the author e.g. Austrian Ludwig Wittgenstein Society. If this is not possible, then use the page title or an abbreviation thereof.

Citation in the text:    “….. (Austrian Ludwig Wittgenstein Society, 2014).”

Reference in the bibliography:    

Austrian Ludwig Wittgenstein Society (2018) 'Trattenbach 1920-1922 ', Austrian Ludwig Wittgenstein Society. Available at: (Accessed 13 December 2021).

Can't tell what date is was created or updated?

Look for an updated date at the foot of the page. If you can’t find one, then use the year you accessed the information.

If you are citing a web site then you should retain a printed copy of that site on that day as the site can be changed without notice.

When citing someone’s work in your assignments you should include the author(s) and year of publication in brackets in the text, e.g.

(Gibson, 2010)

The citation must be within the sentence to which it refers, usually either at the beginning or end of the sentence unless a comparison is being made, in which case the authors concerned must be cited as appropriate within the sentence.

When referring to edited, multi-authored books, just cite the author(s) of that chapter and only include the editor(s) in the full reference in the bibliography.
If two or more sources are cited within a sentence then they should be cited in date priority, e.g. (Williams, 1949; Evans, 1969; Jones, 1999).

If there are two references for the same author in the same year then use a letter postscript, e.g. 2009a, 2009b, etc in your citation and in the references list.

All references cited in the text should be listed in the 'Bibliography'. They should be listed in alphabetical order by author.


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: