Dissertation Reference & Thesis Citation Help
for Doctoral & Graduate Students


     As you're writing your dissertation or thesis, are you finding it difficult to figure out the reference format required for your discipline? After the hardworking task of writing your paper, there remains the tedious one of creating the reference section. First, you have to determine which format to use. Then, you must ensure you've included all citations in the reference section.

     Creating the reference section can be a difficult process, especially if you don't know which format to follow. Here, we provide some reference section help and pointers that vary depending on your discipline. If you're unsure of the format and content of your reference section, get help from a dissertation consultant. Only a consultant will ensure that your reference section is completed correctly and on time. You have enough to worry about with your dissertation -- don't waste precious time checking and verifying your reference section.

Citing References in the Body of Your Dissertation

     Many disciplines require that you use the author-date format to cite references in both the body of your dissertation or thesis and its reference section. When citing references in the body, you might write "as Jones (2004) points out", or "a recent study (Jones, 2004) shows". Every source you cite in your text -- and only those sources cited in your text -- are listed in the reference section. Sometimes students need reference section help because they can't figure out how to reference multiple authors in the text of their dissertation or thesis. Here are some general reference section help tips for referencing multiple authors.

  • TIP #1: For two-author citations, spell out both authors throughout the text.
  • TIP #2: If you cite a work by multiple authors (up to 5), name all authors the first time, then use "et al." For example, the first time you would write "Jones, James, Smith, Harris, and Case (1995)". The second time you reference this citation, though, you would write "Jones et al. (1995)", with a period after "al". The first time an "et al." reference in your dissertation is used in a paragraph, give the year. However, if you repeat the citation in the same paragraph, do not include the year.
  • TIP #3: If you are citing a work for six or more authors, use "et al." the first time and give the full citation in the reference section.
  • TIP #4: Many students are unsure when to use "and" or "&" in citations. If you are citing the names of more than one author, use "and", e.g. "As Jones and Smith (1995) argue". However, you would use "&" in the following citation example: "A similar method was used in an earlier study" (Jones & Smith, 1995).
     These are just a few examples of the reference format and rules you may have to follow for your discipline. For specific reference section help and for assistance with citing references in the text of your work, contact a dissertation research consultant.
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Listing Citations in Your Reference Section

     The citations in your reference section must follow a specific format. This section is designed to provide reference section help for listing those citations.

  • TIP #5: Do not use prefixes when listing your citations in the reference section (e.g. "Jr.", "Sr.", etc.).
  • TIP #6: Alphabetize all citations in the reference section. When alphabetizing your citations, disregard apostrophes or spaces. For example, "D'Homme" would come before "Domsy" and after "De La Hoya".
  • TIP #7: Cite single authors before multiple ones. For example, you may have cites "Jones, 1999" and "Jones et al. 1999" in your text. In the reference section, "Jones, 1999" would be listed before "Jones et al. 1999".
     If you are unsure how to format your list of references, get reference section help from a dissertation consultant.

Reference Section Help for Psychology

     If you have written a psychology dissertation or thesis, you will need to follow the reference section format and style outlined by the APA. According to the APA manual, you must use hanging indentation for the reference section and italics for reference titles. To provide reference section help, a few examples of the APA style you should use in your dissertation are presented below:

American Psychiatric Association. (1990). Diagnostic and statistical
         manual of mental disorders
(3rd ed.). Washington, DC: Author.

Jones, H. C., Cross, W & Smith, K. M. (1999). Get your dissertation
. Baltimore: University of Baltimore Press.

     These tips should help you get started. However, do yourself a favor and contact a dissertation consultant for specific reference section help.