Independent Study: How to Cite References

Whenever you refer to the work of others in assignments and papers, you must clearly identify the source of that information. We use a standard format, known as APA, for citing references. This guide is intended to introduce you to the most common methods of recording the sources of information you will use in your assignments.

When you read a book, article, webpage, or watch a film, get into the habit of noting all the information you may need to provide later, such as the author, title, publication source and date. Because you may wish to quote some sentences directly from printed texts, it is important to take careful notes as you are read, and particularly to note the page number on which you find relevant ideas. There are two places where you must cite references:

  • in the body of your text at the point where you use the information or idea you have borrowed
  • a complete reference list at the end of your paper.

The examples below were taken from Independent Studies written by Coady participants in previous years.

References in the Body of Your Paper

1. Referring to the General Idea of another source

Sometimes you will refer to a general idea that you have found interesting or helpful. In this case, you should put the surname of the author whose book contained the idea in brackets, along with the year of publication.

Example 1:

In Listening to Africa, (Pradervand, 1990) the author emphasizes the fact that culture is the foundation of one's life. He describes culture as what enables the complex machinery of a society to function more or less harmoniously. I agree with Pradervand, for I believe development should be integrated with the culture of the people, and not mould them to adapt foreign cultures, for this will damage the foundation of people's lives.

2. Quoting a Sentence or a Brief Passage

At other times, you may want to quote a sentence or a brief passage directly from a book or article that you have read. If so, put quotation marks around the text that is being quoted. At the end of the quotation, put the surname of the author, the date of publication, and the page number on which you found the quotation in brackets.

Example 2:

As development workers, we must examine our own assumptions, and look critically at our own frames before engaging with the community. "Any attempt to understand the poor, and to learn from them, has to begin with introspection by outsiders themselves" (Chambers, 1983, p. 104).

3. Quoting a Longer Passage

Occasionally, you may wish to quote a somewhat longer passage, perhaps 3 or 4 sentences. If so, indent the passage you wish to quote and single space between lines, so that the passage ends up looking like a block of text. You do not need to use quotation marks around the text. At the end of the quotation, put the surname of the author, the date of publication, and the page number on which you found the quotation in brackets.

Example 3:

Difficulties faced by working women are diverse:

In the industrial sector, organization of workers in traditional industries (many of which tend to be female-dominated) is as necessary as in export industries and in free trade zones. The problems of wage workers in this sector are somewhat different from those of self-employed women in the so-called "informal sector". In petty trade and services women suffer particularly from police harassment, lack of credit, access to markets, and obstacles in obtaining licenses. (Sen & Grown, 1987, p. 86)

All of these problems confront the market women in my area. By creating a revolving fund, the women have managed to deal with the credit issue, but the other problems remain.

Note: If you wish to refer to the title of a book or article or film in the body of your literature review, you should type the title in italics, or underline the title if you are writing by hand.

Your Reference List

At the end of your assignment, you should list all the books, articles, interviews, films or videos, internet resources and other sources that you have referred to. The information to be provided will usually include:

  • The author's name (last name, initial of first name). For more than one author, list all names the same way in the order in which they appear. If the author is an organization with no individual person noted, use the organization's name (Oxfam, UNICEF, etc.)
  • The year of publication or production in brackets
  • The title of the book or article
  • The city of publication and the name of the publisher. To find the publisher's name and location, and the date of publication, look on the back of the title page of most books. For videos, look on the case, or watch the credits at the end of the film.
  • Or for a journal article, the name of the journal, volume and issue number.
  • Or for a website, the url address where the information was retrieved. Look near the title or scroll to the bottom of the page for the date and owner.

Below is a reference list that includes different types of sources. It is based on the APA standard of referencing. Note the information you provide for each format is slightly different. Do not add the headings 'book', 'journal', etc. This is just provided here for illustration to identify the types.



Chambers, R. (1983). Rural development: Putting the last first. London: Longman.

Book Chapter
(from an edited collection)

Hunt, C. (2005). Community education. In L.M. English (Ed.), International encyclopedia of adult education (p.131-136). Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan.


Dodaro, S. (2004). Globalization and development: participant manual. Antigonish: Coady International Institute.


Kapadia, K. (1992). Every blade of grass: Landless women labourers, production, and reproduction in South India. Indian Journal of Labour Economics, 35 (2), 266-276.

Government Document
or Agency Report

Government of Nepal. (2002). Tenth plan (2002-2007). Kathmandu: National Planning Commission. Retrieved from:


Mayer, D. (Producer). (1985). The women will... wanawake watatunza. [Film]. Nairobi: Worldview International Foundation.


Mbilinyi, J. (2002). People's organizations in Tanzania. [Interview]. Antigonish: Coady International Institute, July 16.


Magrath, J. (2015, August 6). Weather alert: An introduction to climate change [Web log post]. Retrieved from:


Oxfam. (2014). Ghana: Impact of food prices on rice farmers. Retrieved from: