Rationalising referencing: Changing policy
and practice to smooth transition
and improve the student
experience
Dan Pullin...
Harvard referencing – which of these is correct?
a) Smith, A., Jones, R. and Edwards, J. (2014). How to reference.
2nd ed....
Harvard referencing – which of these is correct?
a) Smith, A., Jones, R. and Edwards, J. (2014). How to reference.
2nd ed....
As one student put it…
“Referencing at the University of Leeds
is an absolute shambles!”
• Many different styles in use, p...
Provide
definitive source
of guidance for
taught students
and tutors
Help students to
focus on underlying
principles:
• Wh...
What did we do?
• Pushed for a change in policy and practice
• Gained support from Vice Chancellor and LUU Education Offic...
Rationalising Referencing Policy
All schools to select single referencing style for use by all taught
students
All schools...
Library’s referencing webpages
http://library.leeds.ac.uk/skills-referencing
Has the policy worked?
• 74.5% using Harvard, 14% MHRA, 12% Numeric
• Using multiple sources of guidance
• Problems with i...
“Some tutors have said that the referencing was done incorrectly,
when I had used the examples given in the Library guide…...
Actions for the Library
Promote referencing support we provide for students
• Webpages
• Online tutorials
• Workshops
• Li...
Recommendations for schools
All students given introduction to referencing at Level 1
School drop-in or refresher sessions...
• School recommendations implemented?
• Follow-up survey with previous student respondents
• Any tweaking of styles needed...
“Overall, I think the support for referencing is very
good.”
“Very informative and clear information given on the
Library ...
Our top tips
• Aim high, but be realistic too!
• Make the most of opportunities
• Gather evidence to strengthen your argum...
Any questions?
Image from Microsoft Clip Art
References:
Warner, R. 2011. Referencing: a threshold concept. AUC TESOL Jour...
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Rationalising referencing: changing policy and practice to smooth transition and improve the student experience - Dan Pullinger & Michelle Schneider

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  • Depends who you ask! We all have an opinion on which we prefer, but there is no right or wrong answer. There is no definitive version of Harvard.

    That has created problems for students at Leeds, and we felt referencing was an issue we had to tackle.

  • Depends who you ask! We all have an opinion on which we prefer, but there is no right or wrong answer. There is no definitive version of Harvard.

    That has created problems for students at Leeds, and we felt referencing was an issue we had to tackle.

  • At Leeds, inconsistent advice and expectations from tutor to tutor, often based on their own preferences or previous experience, meant that students were spending a disproportionate amount of time worrying about how to reference, instead of properly understanding why to reference – the principles of referencing.

    Problem with multiple variants of styles, not just number of different styles in use.

    Students being marked down even though they were following the guidance on our webpages.

    Our referencing guidance on the Library webpages for Harvard and Numeric was benchmarked against the British Standard recommendations. However, some features of the British Standard version were not accepted by many academics at Leeds, e.g. capitalisation of the author surname. Also limited in the range of source examples provided.

    Disproportionate amount of time spent on referencing compared to marks available – students AND staff – inefficient, duplication of effort in creating materials, etc.

    ***************************************

    “Referencing at the University of Leeds is an absolute shambles. 1) There seems to be a different Harvard system for every department, without it ever being made clear to those who take electives what this new system is. 2) Even within departments there are tutors who will deduct marks for not practicing ‘their’ style of Harvard referencing – again without ever having told you beforehand what this is. 3) Again all these styles will typically differ from the style on the library website – yet, the tutors will direct you to the library website for help with your referencing! … It is plainly obvious that the system needs standardisation, and that that needs to be done as soon as possible.” (Geography)
  • Threshold concept = Core concept that, once understood, transforms perception of a given subject.

    The need to reference academic sources is arguably a threshold concept for students making the transition to Higher Education; many arrive at university with little understanding of its importance, nor the ongoing role it will play in their academic and professional lives (Racquel Warner, 2011).

    In making the transition to Higher Education, many students see referencing as just a process to be completed at the end of their work, rather than understanding that it is an important aspect of their engagement with academic sources (searching, selecting, quoting, paraphrasing, summarising, referencing, engaging with ideas, critical thinking).

    Threshold concept is understanding referencing’s role in academic practice / critical thinking.

    Taught students were not benefiting from having to learn multiple versions of the same style. Instead, we sought to provide a definitive source of guidance, which would help us focus more of our time on helping students to understand the underlying principles – why referencing is important, when to reference and how to use academic sources to develop their own understanding and argument. (Offer opportunities for them to demonstrate their understanding through literature-based assignments).

    If students acknowledge the ideas of others in their academic writing, and engage with them in a critical and analytical manner, this gives a level of accountability and credibility to their work (demonstrating academic rigour). Helping them to understand their own role in the development of ideas – aiding their transition and progression. Wider benefits.

    Helping students to develop the transferable skills behind referencing that will help transition, benefit their wider studies and enhance their future employability.

    The overall student experience is also improved by removing unnecessary confusion and worry, and instead focusing on development of their wider skills and understanding.

    *******************************************

    A threshold concept is defined by Meyer and Land (2003) as one which is: transformative, integrative and irreversible. 

    Warner, R. 2011. Referencing: a threshold concept. AUC TESOL Journal. [Online]. Special issue, pp.141-146. [Accessed 3 April 2014]. Available from: http://www.aucegypt.edu/academics/eli/TESOL/issues/Pages/default.aspx
  • Pushed for a change in policy and practice – we felt that being able to point to the policy would allow us to have more influence in bringing schools and tutors on board

    Got VC and Student Union on side – benefiting the student experience – student feedback (NSS scores) matters to them. In line with “One University” vision and opportunity for increased efficiency.

    Paper presented at Taught Student Education Board by the Deputy Librarian on our behalf

    Liaison – used our existing contacts to liaise with schools, better understand the picture in each faculty and school, attempt to reach agreement on most effective conventions to use, and push through the policy.

    Rationalising Referencing Policy approved for academic year 2012/13.

    Code of practice on assessment template amended across all faculties to incorporate referencing policy – liaison with Quality Assurance Team

    Positioned Library as central source of guidance and support for referencing.
  • Adoption of a campus-wide Rationalising Referencing Policy in 2012/13. Schools had to select a single referencing style for use by all taught students. All schools that adopted Harvard or Numeric are now expected to use a standardised Leeds version. Any school that chose another style (where appropriate, e.g. Law using OSCOLA) is now required to direct its students to a single, official guide for that style. All marking of referencing should adhere to the guidance provided through the Library’s centralised support.

    The Library provides centralised support for the Harvard and Numeric styles, and has made available to all staff and students a list outlining the referencing style used by each school, along with links to the official guidance. This information is available from the Library referencing pages: http://library.leeds.ac.uk/skills-referencing. The policy states that all marking of referencing should adhere to the guidance provided through this centralised support.

    Can be directed to use other referencing styles for specific tasks, e.g. producing an assignment in the style of a journal article

    If students go on to publish later in their academic career, then they would be able to adapt to any new style that is required or could make use of reference management software, e.g. EndNote or Mendeley.

  • Webpages as focal point of our centralised support. High level, consistent source of guidance and support.

    Statistics:

    2012/13 (Aug 1 - Jul 31): 602,182 page views - 13% of total (4,736,913)

    2013/14 (Aug 1 - Mar 31): 519,475 page views - 14% of year so far (3,821,972). We estimate that this figure will hit 700,000 by the end of July.

    Page views have more than doubled since the equivalent months in 2011/12
  • Policy introduced but was it working? And how could we force action by the schools? Gathered evidence in the form of the survey results.

    In February and March 2013, the Library carried out a short, online feedback survey to gain further understanding of students’ experiences of referencing, with a view to improving the help and support offered to them in this area. The survey also provided an opportunity to examine how the University’s Rationalising Referencing Policy had been implemented.

    Student survey – 5% response rate

    Large majority were using (a version of) the official style chosen by their school.

    Of the respondents who use Harvard, 80% say they use the Library’s referencing webpages for guidance. 37% use the pages as their only source of guidance and therefore are only being exposed to the Leeds version of Harvard.

    Also encouraged academic buy-in through liaison and staff survey – opportunity to give feedback and to feed into the official styles.

    Results of survey - confirmed the extent of Leeds students’ frustration and confusion, challenged assumptions made by tutors, and validated the Library’s work to rationalise the referencing styles used across campus.

    The Rationalising Referencing Policy did not appear to have been consistently implemented across schools nor, in some cases, within individual modules. It was reported that many tutors were not following the official referencing guidance selected by their school when marking student work, nor providing clear marking criteria for referencing. In addition, many respondents taking Joint Honours courses or electives were unhappy with being required to use a different style in each of their schools.

    Staff survey – lack of awareness of the policy, variety of expectations with regards to students’ referencing, differing opinions on aspects of the official styles. Not necessarily seeing bigger picture of benefits to students’ learning in having one version of referencing style.
  • Comments of this kind across student feedback from most schools. Sometimes backed up by staff comments, sometimes contradicted. Confused picture.

    Changing policy is not enough in itself – need to bring about changes in practice and culture. Need clear communication with students and staff!

    Need to be persistent in order to bring about cultural change.


  • We produced an overall report for Taught Student Education Board, plus tailored reports with individual statistics, comments and evidence for each faculty and its schools. The reports were presented at faculty and school committees, and included actions for the Library and recommendations for schools to implement, based on the survey outcomes.

    All intended to improve support on offer and ensure clearer communication.

    Actions for the Library:

    Promote referencing support we provide for students:
    Webpages
    Online tutorials
    Workshops
    List of schools’ official styles
    EndNote styles for Leeds versions of Harvard and Numeric
    One-to-one advice
    Minor changes to Leeds versions of Harvard and Numeric
    More comprehensive list of source type examples
    Examples of citations and references within working documents
    Improve navigation for referencing webpages
  • Encouraging schools to communicate clearly with their students about their expectations and the support on offer!

    Schools with more than one official referencing style to switch to a single style if deemed of benefit to the student experience
    Ensure all students are given a face-to-face introduction to referencing at Level 1, perhaps within the context of wider academic skills support sessions
    Identify other opportunities for referencing support at different levels, e.g. provision of school drop-in or refresher sessions
    Use induction sessions, VLE module areas, departmental and module handbooks to promote Library referencing webpages and subject librarian support to students
    Include in every module handbook a short, standard entry that directs students to Library referencing webpages, rather than tutor-written guidance that may not conform to school’s official style
    A sample of modules to be checked for compliance with the referencing policy during the Annual Health Check (NB: Subsequent feedback from FTSECs and AQST suggests School Taught Student Education Committees would be the most appropriate forum for this)
    Items on module reading lists to be formatted in the official referencing style used by the particular school. This would provide students on the module with an example of how the referencing style should be applied
    Marking criteria for each assignment to explicitly state how referencing will be assessed. Ideally, the same level of stringency would be applied throughout each school

  • We have now implemented all the actions we identified for the Library.

    We now need to investigate:

    Have schools now adopted the policy / taken on board the recommendations?
    Is the policy working?
    Is the situation improving for students?

    Liaise with schools to see if recommendations implemented
    Follow-up survey with previous student respondents
    Consider if any tweaking of styles needed
    Use of “et al.” in bibliography
    Consider addition of Leeds styles to Mendeley and Zotero
    Embedded teaching to focus on how to use other people’s ideas in your assignments
    Using other people’s ideas - paraphrasing, summarising, synthesising, comparing, critiquing ideas, critical thinking
  • Quotes from our current student survey:

    So far, it looks like a mixed picture… still a work in progress!

    We’ll be continuing to work with individual schools to help them carry out the recommendations, subject to negotiation!
  • If you are thinking of trying something similar at your institution, here are our top tips:

    Aim high – go through the committees – change policy to influence changes in practice – also empowers students
    But also have to be realistic – we realised it wasn’t practical or possible for one style to be applied across whole institution. Each school had to select its own official style. Consistency within a school and its modules, and to some extent across faculties.
    Take opportunities – get VC on side, student union Education Officer
    Gather evidence! Student survey – use the weight of student opinion, student power!
    Be prepared for the long haul - Requires a cultural change across the University – will take time and persistence
    Share the load – someone to be a sounding board and remind you why you are doing this!
    Using existing contacts, networks and structures - Get your colleagues to do some of the work for you. Communication is key – promote what you are doing through all available channels!
    Document everything you do - Needed to prove that we had given academics the opportunity to have input
    Have courage of your convictions / Leave open to review, on your own terms – consider feedback from tutors and students, but don’t promise to make changes – everyone has to compromise, but you are the ones with the bigger picture – this will benefit students’ learning overall. Continual changes in response to feedback will only undermine the purpose of having definitive guidance.
  • Any questions?
  • Rationalising referencing: changing policy and practice to smooth transition and improve the student experience - Dan Pullinger & Michelle Schneider

    1. 1. Rationalising referencing: Changing policy and practice to smooth transition and improve the student experience Dan Pullinger Michelle Schneider Leeds University Library
    2. 2. Harvard referencing – which of these is correct? a) Smith, A., Jones, R. and Edwards, J. (2014). How to reference. 2nd ed. Oxford: Oxford University Press. b) SMITH, A., R. JONES and J. EDWARDS. 2012. How to reference. 2nd ed. Oxford: Oxford University Press. c) Smith, A. et al. 2012. How to reference. 2nd ed. Oxford: Oxford University Press.
    3. 3. Harvard referencing – which of these is correct? a) Smith, A., Jones, R. and Edwards, J. (2014). How to reference. 2nd ed. Oxford: Oxford University Press. b) SMITH, A., R. JONES and J. EDWARDS. 2012. How to reference. 2nd ed. Oxford: Oxford University Press. c) Smith, A. et al. 2012. How to reference. 2nd ed. Oxford: Oxford University Press. d) There is no correct answer!
    4. 4. As one student put it… “Referencing at the University of Leeds is an absolute shambles!” • Many different styles in use, plus multiple variants • Differing expectations from tutors, within schools and even modules! • Students given inconsistent advice and left confused • Disproportionate amount of time spent on referencing • Risk of inequitable marking Image from Microsoft Clip Art
    5. 5. Provide definitive source of guidance for taught students and tutors Help students to focus on underlying principles: • Why reference • When to reference • Using sources to develop own understanding and argument Transferable skills that benefit studies and enhance employability Improved student experience Referencing as a threshold concept?
    6. 6. What did we do? • Pushed for a change in policy and practice • Gained support from Vice Chancellor and LUU Education Officer • Liaised with committees at university, faculty and school level • Introduction of Rationalising Referencing Policy • Code of practice on assessment amended across all faculties • Library as central source of guidance and support for referencing Image from Microsoft Clip Art
    7. 7. Rationalising Referencing Policy All schools to select single referencing style for use by all taught students All schools adopting Harvard or Numeric have to use standardised Leeds version Any school choosing another style (e.g. OSCOLA, MHRA) to direct students to single, official guide All marking of referencing to adhere to Library’s centralised guidance
    8. 8. Library’s referencing webpages http://library.leeds.ac.uk/skills-referencing
    9. 9. Has the policy worked? • 74.5% using Harvard, 14% MHRA, 12% Numeric • Using multiple sources of guidance • Problems with inconsistency, inexperience, perceived lack of support, EndNote Student survey: 1,464 responses • Lack of awareness of policy • Differing opinions and expectations on official styles Staff survey: 91 responses
    10. 10. “Some tutors have said that the referencing was done incorrectly, when I had used the examples given in the Library guide… I always dread getting an essay back because I'm worried the tutor will have marked me down for referencing.” “It seems that individual tutors will also have slight differences in the way they mark the same type of references. It is difficult when there doesn't seem to be a universal system to work with.” “It is confusing to know which style to use as different departments and even different members of staff within the same department say different things.”
    11. 11. Actions for the Library Promote referencing support we provide for students • Webpages • Online tutorials • Workshops • List of schools’ official styles • EndNote styles for Leeds versions of Harvard and Numeric • One-to-one advice Minor changes to Leeds versions of Harvard and Numeric Additional source type examples Examples of citations and references within working documents Improve navigation for referencing webpages
    12. 12. Recommendations for schools All students given introduction to referencing at Level 1 School drop-in or refresher sessions at other levels Promote Library referencing webpages via induction, VLE, handbooks Sample of modules to be checked for compliance with referencing policy Reading lists to be formatted in school’s official referencing style Marking criteria to explicitly state how referencing will be assessed
    13. 13. • School recommendations implemented? • Follow-up survey with previous student respondents • Any tweaking of styles needed? • Use of “et al.” in bibliography • Add Leeds styles to Mendeley and Zotero? • Embedded teaching to focus on how to use other people’s ideas in assignments Future plans “Space, Space, Space“ by Österreichisches Weltraum Forum Austrian
    14. 14. “Overall, I think the support for referencing is very good.” “Very informative and clear information given on the Library website.” “They more clearly reference the Skills@Library and online tutorials within the student handbooks.” “I got marked down on using the Harvard style as it was on the S@L website.”
    15. 15. Our top tips • Aim high, but be realistic too! • Make the most of opportunities • Gather evidence to strengthen your argument • Be prepared for the long haul • Share the load • Use existing contacts, networks, structures • Keep record of everything you do • Have courage of your convictions • Leave open to review, but on your own terms!
    16. 16. Any questions? Image from Microsoft Clip Art References: Warner, R. 2011. Referencing: a threshold concept. AUC TESOL Journal. [Online]. Special issue, pp.141-146. [Accessed 3 April 2014]. Available from: http://www.aucegypt.edu/academics/eli/TESOL/issues/Pages/default.aspx

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