As all librarians know, referencing is important if the citations are to be accurately found by the reader. As all teacher/school librarians know, getting students to reference their sources is a good way of making students think more about the sources they use and perhaps avoiding plagiarism. For my students, there are 2 main referencing formats i.e. Harvard and APA and the key thing I always ask for is that my students select a referencing style and use it consistently. Having said that (and those of you who think that referencing properly is as important as the content of a student’s work should look away now), why does it need to be so complicated? Why do we need more than one system of referencing and why do referencing rules (like cataloguing rules) appear to have been designed by the “put a comma in the wrong place and I’ll break your arm” school of librarians? Having just written a book chapter which demands that I use APA, I’m now writing a conference paper which demands that I use Harvard. So having previously written as a citation, Herring [comma] J 2006 [comma] …., I now have to write Herring [comma] J [full stop] [open brackets] 2006 [close brackets] … If you tried to explain this to a visiting Martian or even to most people walking down your local high street, they’d probably advise you to get help.
Out cycling today around the country roads and many fields here in East Lothian have now been planted with potatoes. Nowadays, potatoes are planted by a man driving a tractor with an appendage which plants the potatoes in neat rows (drills). In the past, when the fields were much smaller, a man with a horse and plough made furrows in the ground and it was often women and children who came behind, carrying a basket of potatoes and planting the crop by throwing a potato into the furrow, stepping on it and walking on, repeating the planting. Behind the planters came another horse drawn plough which covered up the potatoes. Seeing the numerous rows of newly planted potatoes as you cycle by is not only aesthetically pleasing but it is more evidence that Spring is advancing.