Referencing proves where evidence comes from and renders a paper credible for science. That is how it is distinguishable from an article that the author provides its own views and opinion. On the contrary a academic paper tries to prove, based on facts, what is known in that field and what is true according to empirical results that can be observed in a specific field of study. Academia is all about searching the one and only truth. In political and social studies and more specifically on security studies usually there are different approaches and theories. So, in that case the truth might be differentiated between different schools of thought. Nonetheless, that does not entail that political scientists are expressing their own views but that they try to seek the truth through different perspectives.

In security studies one could find different approaches on explaining similar phenomena. Correct referencing is the compass that can keep the writer and reader on the right track of finding the truth through different approaches. Not doing so could transform an -otherwise- academic paper to an opinion article with no actual academic value. That is why appropriate referencing is essential for academic writing. For this reason, it would be helpful to provide some basic advice for you before starting writing your paper. So, before using the source we should consider:


Goal of the existing Source

The source should explain its goal in an introductory phase of the paper. This makes clear the intentions of the writer and it can decide whether utilizing it would add value to our paper. Usually academic papers identify the problem they deal with, methods and theories used for research, and what is the final goal of the source. If all of the above are met, it is easier to decide the credibility of the paper and if it of any use for our research.


Who is the author? Who is the publisher?

Academia is all about promoting dialog and arguments in order to reach safe conclusions. Academics will always sign their work and acknowledge that a paper is their work, in order for other people of the scientific community to reach to them and initiate a fruitful dialog that will facilitate further research. Sources that do not indicate the author, any credentials or qualifications, or the publisher should be considered untrustworthy for academic research and in no way should be used for referencing. Examining who is the publisher can also indicate if the source has a certain point of view on one subject or if it is a widely accepted scientific publisher.


Is the source reliable?

Additionally, to the above criteria it should be questioned if the source is reliable. In that case one should question how is the source related to their topic? After all it must add some value to what our paper’s topic deals with. The source must relate and not disorient our research. It also has to be updated and recently published in order to provide recent information on the subject area. This does not entail that older sources are not reliable. They should be used according to what they can offer to our paper both. Can the findings of the source be verified? If so the source through the references can be examined for its reliability and credibility and can be used for scientific research. Are there many viewpoints presented? Multiple viewpoints within a paper can offer a more comprehensive approach to a subject and can also offer a well structure base for our research. Additionally, more focused sources should be used if we want to reach safe conclusions. A good academic report should include both large amount of information related to the topic and simultaneous keep the balance on focusing on a specific issue area.


Primary concern for an author in order to render his paper credible is the right referencing because it can answer through that all of the above questions. References and citation are the focal point that can lead a paper from mediocracy to an academic superiority. For this reason, some citation styles will be presented and accordingly, variations for the reference list:

UK + Europe

University of Oxford, School of Law, (2012): Oxford University Standard for Citation of Legal Authorities , 4 th edition, Oxford

US legal citation standards

Downweber, Steve (ed.) (2012): The Law Student’s Quick Guide to Legal Citation, Boston, MA: Boston University of Law School

APA (American Psychological Association)

Ambady, N., & Rosenthal, R. (1993). Half a minute: Predicting teacher evaluations from thin slices of nonverbal behavior and physical attractiveness. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 64(3), 431–441

Harvard Style

  • Antic, M., (2003). Referencing Essentials, 3 rd edition, Wisconsin: Brothers Inc.

Further Tips

Referencing is required for all citations or ideas derived from other authors.

Do not use blind “citation”. Only refer to literature that you have read and checked.

Original sources should always been cited in the original version. Citing authors that cite the work of other would be considered “grey literature”. We can cite secondary sources, by saying “Papadopoulos (as cited in Diaogoras, 2001) suggested that security is really important for critical infrastructure. The reference should be included to the Diagoras article at the end, but you do not include the secondary Papadopoulos reference. Secondary sources should be used sparingly.

Coherence required: use the referencing as required by the publisher, journal, professor – and use it in a coherent way: avoid jumping between different variations of referencing in the same text.

The reference list in the end of the paper has to follow an alphabetical order.

It is important to state all the information of one cited work. Like: title, publisher, date, place of publication etc.

If there are two different works for the same author at the same date should be cited in text as (Aristotle, 2012a) and (Aristotle, 2012b) and accordingly in the reference list.

When more than two people are co-authors of one work the citation appears as (Mackenzie
et al. 2014) while if there are two authors both of them have to appear in text citation (Meimar & Dunkin, 2019).

Software For References

In order to make referencing easier there are many programs that offer help with organising references. They also provide online tutorials on how to use them. Some of our suggestions are: