How to Reference Research

The importance and value of referencing research in CIPD assignments

You will remember from our recent blog ‘The Importance and Value of Research in your Assignments’ that we discussed the use of research— particularly at Intermediate level—in order to support, inform and underpin your CIPD assignments. This means undertaking additional reading and examination of already published articles (secondary research). 

Our ‘Glossary of Assignment Terms’ blog goes further to suggest that on occasion you will be asked in your CIPD assignments to ‘analyse’ and ‘critique’ various issues and topics. It is only possible to do this when you are comparing articles and research documents. In other words, taking more than one interpretation of a topic and making an informed judgement as to their significance.   

Why do we need to reference this research and what does this mean?

In simple terms, the use of references informs the reader of the assignment or report where you have used independent research in support of your own words. Not only does this demonstrate your ability to enquire further into the subject, over a range of resource materials (web based, books, journals etc), but also that you acknowledge that not everything you write is based on just your own thoughts and opinions.  You must recognise and give credit to the work of others, no matter how little of their material you include. Otherwise, it may be seen that you are attempting to pass this work off as your own. This is a very easy trap to fall into but can as easily be avoided by following straightforward guidelines as below.

How to reference research

For Foundation Level CIPD qualifications it is a recommendation that you undertake some further reading and research around the assignment topic. However, it is not essential that you include references. At Foundation Level you will be learning about certain models and ‘theories’ (for example Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs) and you will need to include these in your assignments - however,  further research is not necessary. It will become clear during your workshops where you will include these models and theories in your reports. 

At Intermediate Level it is a requirement of the CIPD that 3-5 research pieces are provided per assignment and you must make sure that you clearly acknowledge where you have used them. You need to do this by placing within the report where they have supported your findings, as well as on a reference list. Words that are not your own must be put in inverted commas (‘). 

You may use short quotes from articles but these should be limited to no more than a sentence or two. You might decide not use quotes at all but simply refer to research within the text. In either event, you must credit the author with their work.

Example One – use of short quotes within the text

Traditionally, HR has been seen as a people function with a focus on dealing with the day to day generalist issues of pay roll, administrative tasks, dismissal and absence. The emphasis is now on the function being ‘more strategic, less reactive and firmly focused on achieving organisational objectives(Taylor and Woodhams 2012) and crucially adding value. 

In this example the highlighted sentence has been used and correctly credited to the author.

The reference must also appear on a separate reference list at the end of the report. If you are familiar with a recognised system of referencing (for example Harvard) you may use this. However, if you are not then you should use a simplified format; clearly showing the name of the author/s, the publication from where the reference has been taken, the publisher and the date of publication.

In the example above this would appear as follows

Taylor S and Woodhams C. ,Managing People and Organisations, CIPD. 2012

If you are using web-based resources you should use the full URL

Example Two – referring to research within the text without the use of quotes.

Traditionally, HR has been seen as a people function with a focus on dealing with the day to day generalist issues of pay roll, administrative tasks, dismissal and absence. Authors suggest that the emphasis is now on the function being fully aligned to business strategy and objectives (Taylor and Woodhams 2012) and crucially adding value. 

In this example the exact words of the author have not been used but clearly the student has used the publication as a source and used their own definition of the text, using their own words. 

The inclusion on the reference list will be the same as for Example One.

Please note that this is an extremely simplified version of referencing research — whilst this is acceptable for your CIPD reports, it is not an officially recognised style and may well not be appropriate for use outside of this qualification. Official referencing requires attention to a great many more ‘rules’ with very specific and precise details provided.

In summary

  • Whenever you use anyone else’s work to support your own – you must give recognition to the author and source (book, journal, web address etc). 
  • Do not overuse secondary research and referencing – it is not necessary as primarily it is your understanding of the various issues that are of most importance.  3-5 references at Intermediate Level are all that are needed. 
  • Remember that any references that have been included within the text (the main body of your assignments) must also appear clearly on a separate reference list at the end of the report. 

Good luck! 

Fleur Blanford
Director of Studies

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