Home Blog How to Reference a Dissertation - Complete Guide For Students

What do you mean by a dissertation referencing?

Referencing is an essential element of any writing material and helps provide information regarding the different resources used by the writer during the preparation of the write-up. A dissertation reference is a page containing detailed information or references related to all the sources of information used to prepare the lengthy write-up. Referencing can include paraphrasing, quoting someone, and referring to someone other than a person other than the writer. Referencing is essential as it helps increase the authenticity of the information provided in the dissertation. The references provided in the dissertation help make the audience believe that the writer has examined and evaluated the information before writing it in the literature review section and that it is relevant to the research topic. As a result, providing references is essential for completing a valid dissertation on any research topic. 

Number of references in a dissertation

Referencing is an integral part of any dissertation work. However, the total number of references required in every dissertation is different and depends on the type of dissertation. The literature review requires the maximum number of references. The literature review includes all the information cited and also uses an adequate number of contradictions related to the theories mentioned in the literature review section. The total number of references required in the dissertation also depends on the total length of the research paper. For instance, for every 1000 words, 8-10 references are required in the dissertation. Every problem mentioned in the academic paper requires two-tree references in general. As a result, no specific number of references is required in a dissertation. As a result, the number of references required in a dissertation depends on the dissertation topic and any specific instruction given by the supervisor regarding the dissertation. Moreover, the number of references required in the dissertation depends on the types of study conducted by the researcher. For instance, the number of references required needs to be improved in the case of qualitative study. 

In a study of 8000 words, around 63 references are considered sufficient. The number of references in a file of 10,000 words is 72; in a study of 15000 words, the number of references required is 95.

Importance of referencing in dissertation

Many reasons show that referencing is crucial in completing a successful dissertation paper. Some of the essential reasons that make referencing necessary in a dissertation are 

  • Reducing plagiarism: Referencing plays an essential role in reducing the occurrences of plagiarism. Generally, students paraphrase the sentences and write them in their own words to remove the cite from these sentences. However, this practice is not considered suitable, and it is essential to provide credit to the source of information used in the dissertation. Therefore, it becomes essential for the researcher to know referencing while writing a dissertation and use references collected from authentic sources. 
  • Display your knowledge: Dissertation referencing is considered helpful for the students to show their knowledge regarding the research topic. For instance, it helps highlight the number of months used for reading, writing, and curating the data collated to provide references in the dissertation. The referencing done in the dissertation helps showcase the depth of reading conducted by the researchers during the dissertation preparation. 
  • Authority and credibility: The researcher provides references in the dissertation in a systematic order. It helps showcase the words and thoughts used by the researcher in the dissertation. The primary objective of any dissertation is to prove a specific point regarding a topic or subject. As a result, the more data the researcher has, the more it helps the researcher make the dissertation credible for the readers. 
  • Academic integrity: As universities and colleges worldwide are concerned about plagiarism, referencing becomes more important in a dissertation. As the researcher or students mention the accurate sources of information used in the dissertation and provide credit to every resource used in the dissertation, it shows the honesty of the researcher or the student. This factor makes referencing essential for the students and researcher when preparing a dissertation. However, it is also essential for the researcher to have adequate knowledge for referencing a dissertation correctly. 

Steps for correctly referencing a dissertation 

The following steps will be constructive for any researcher or student to reference their dissertation correctly.

  • Provide the name of the author of the paper.
  • Name of the book
  • Publication type. For instance, dissertations, book chapters, web pages, journals, etc.
  • Publication and edition of the book
  • Place and other details of the publisher 
  • If required, mentioning the issue number, page number, and volume is also required when referencing a dissertation. 

The following ways can be used to provide references in a dissertation.

Different styles of referencing:

There are six different styles of referencing that students and researchers around the world use.


“The American Anthropological Association (AAA)” generally uses the Chicago author-date style to provide references in the dissertation. AAA lacks any distinct rile for referencing. The style is generally used in anthropology. 


APA style is described in the 7th publication of the American Psychological Association. The style is generally used in the subject of psychology. However, it is also used in other subjects, such as social science. 

Chicago Author-Date

The Chicago Manual of Style provides a Chicago author-date style of referencing. This style is generally used in subjects like social science and general science. 


“The American Political Science Association (APSA)” type of referencing is mainly used in subjects related to political science. 


The Harvard style is primarily used in the subject of economics. The referencing style is very much popular in the universities of the UK. The Harvard style is used differently among different universities, and the style does not have any single referencing guide. 


The style is given by the “Modern Language Association” and is described in the 9th edition of the MLA handbook. The MLA referencing style is primarily used in different types of humanitarian subjects. The style is generally described as author-page style, which is different from other styles, using author-date style.

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