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Science and Biotechnology: Harvard Referencing

An introduction to resources for BSB03 Bachelor of Science and Biotechnology.

Referencing for Assignments

Most assignments require you to list the resources you have used to gather information. Listing resources correctly is called referencing, citing (citation) or compiling a bibliography. There are several different ways to list resources: some popular styles are Harvard, APA and Turabian. The most common style used at Box Hill Institute is the Harvard Referencing Style. However, it is best to ask your teacher or teaching centre which style they prefer.

Referencing usually involves two elements: something in the main text indicating where a quote or idea has come from, and a list of all resources used at the end of the assignment.

Assignments will often require you to use a combination of books, videos, DVDs, websites, magazines or periodicals, articles from databases, newspapers and other resources. Every item used, regardless of format, must be acknowledged.

Video or DVD

Title in italics, Year [videorecording or DVD], Publisher’s name, Place of publication.


DNA interactive, 2003 [DVD], Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory, Cold Spring Harbor, NY.

How to do the list at the end

List items alphabetically, with a space between each item.

In general, the type of information, and the order that it is presented in is as follows: author - date- title of work - publishing details. However, the exact format depends on the type of resource. The boxes below explain the format for some of the most common resource types.


Single Author

Surname, Initials. Year, Title in italics, Edition (if not the first), Publisher’s name, Place of publication.


Vail, M. 2007, Biotechnology, Oxford University Press, South Melbourne, Vic.             

Two authors

Surname, Initials & Surname, Initials. Year, Title in italics, Edition (if not the first), Publisher’s name, Place of publication.


Seager, S. L. & Slabaugh, M.R. 1997, Chemistry for today : general, organic, and biochemistry, Brooks/Cole Pub. Co., Pacific Grove, CA. 

Edited book

Surname, Initials. (ed.) Year, Title in italics, Edition (if not the first), Publisher’s name, Place of publication.


Fry, J.C. (ed.) 1993, Biological data analysis : a practical approach, IRL Press at Oxford University Press, Oxford. 

Chapter of an edited book

Surname, Initials. (of the author of the chapter) Year, ‘Chapter title’, in Book title, Edition (if not the first), Editor, Publisher, Place of publication, pp.


Rapley, R. 2000, 'Molecular cloning and gene analysis', in Principles and techniques of practical biochemistry, 5th edn, ed. Wilson, K. & Walker, J., Cambridge University Press, New York, pp. 138-139.

Why reference?

Failing to reference the resources you have used to complete an assignment can get you into trouble with your teacher, your teaching centre and the law. Claiming the work of others as your own (by quoting from books, websites or other sources without acknowledging them through a reference list) is a breach of copyright law called plagiarism. Referencing correctly is a way of showing your teacher what is your work and what is supporting material drawn from another source.


How to refer to something while you’re writing

Work the author’s surname or organisation’s name, the year of publication and the page number into the paragraph you are writing. The purpose is to give basic details so your reader can get more information from the list at the end.

Example 1: It has been proven that mice have four legs (Jones, 1999, p12)

Example 2: Jones (1999, p12) has proven that mice have four legs.

Example 3: In his 1999 text, Jones states that mice have four legs (p12.)

Note that page numbers are only necessary for in text citations when direct quotes or precise information are used.

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