Almanacs are single volume, annual publications that provide a reference source for useful facts on a wide range of topics that include: geography; recent historical events;
health and medicine; science and technology; governments; religion; agriculture and transportation. Because Almanacs are revised and published every year, they are able to provide the most up-to-date information.
Most developed countries produce information about a range of social issues; for example, births, deaths and marriages. In the UK, this is all collected by the government
under the care of the Office of National Statistics (ONS). Within the ONS website you will find everything you need about the actual numbers for these events, as well as, in
terms of the population, the rate that this happens. This is where information is obtained about the rate for the number of caesarean births in comparison to vaginal births,
or for the rate of neonatal deaths amongst all live births. The data are published in written format and most university libraries will have this, but it is most easily
and freely available online at www.statistics.gov.uk
A citation is defined as a reference within the body of text to a source of information that verifies or supports the statement made in the text. Of preference for most academic work, these should be published, but there are occasions when unpublished sources can be used. It is also usual for a citation to be from the original source, rather than what is called a secondary source, where one author has cited the work of another. Again, there may be occasions when this is appropriate, but often one of your lecturers or one of the university librarians should be able to help if you need advice.
When producing any piece of writing that refers to the work/ideas of other authors, it is important to give clear details of the articles/publications that you have used in order to give the original authors credit for their theoriesand the work that they have undertaken – this is more commonly referred to as ‘Intellectual honesty’. Accurate references can also help to ensure that, for example, research papers and book chapters can be easily located by others wishing to access the full articles/research papers for themselves and their own studies. Your university should give you clear guidance on how they wish you to present references in your text, but this is usually undertaken in one of two standard formats.
Harvard style of citation
Using the Harvard style, authors are named in the text with the publication year of their work shown in brackets after their name(s). Full references are then listed in alphabetical order at the end of paper. It is usual to cite only the first two authors and if there are more than this, to use et al. The citations are then listed in alphabetical order at the end of your text. In this list you should include at least the first three authors that are given in the publication. Details
about how to present your references should be given to you in guidance from your university.
Vancouver style of citation
The Vancouver style is where references are represented by numbers in the text and the references used are presented in number order at the end of the article. The original number stays even if the article is cited again later in the text. This is not the usual format for student assignment but it might be of help to you when reading research papers.
If you have cited information retrieved from the internet, this needs to be included as a reference. Material from the internet covers a vast range of different sources, including electronic journal articles, websites, presentations and government publications, and there are different rules governing how each of these individual sources should be referenced. Your university should be able to provide guidance on how to cite or reference these types of material, but as a general guide, it is usual to place the
name of the author or organisation that has published the document in the alphabetical reference list at the end of your document, followed by the year that the information
was published (in round brackets), the title of the webpage, the URL and then the date that the information was accessed. For example:
MIDIRS (2011). Practice development with Vicky Carne. http://www.midirs.org/development/studentmidwife.nsf/practice_development [Accessed 29 September 2011].
Thanks to the internet, there are now a huge range of resources available to you as you prepare to undertake your coursework. The presentation of your work is an important part of your overall academic assessment, so right from the beginning it is really important to demonstrate accuracy and attention to detail in what might seem the most trivial of things. Incorrect spelling and grammar give messages to the assessor that you have not given this the time it needed and, while it might seem very distant from giving direct care to women and their babies, this care is also dependent on the midwife writing accurate and clear records, and so the link is made.
It is also important that you can recognise the status of the sources you are relying on in your written work and that this is transparent to the assessor. The next part will look in more detail at how you obtain reference resources from published research and how you critique these so that you can use them appropriately.