Difference Between Reference and Citation (With Table)

Reference vs Citation

As a university student or a researcher, there is a standard procedure you need to follow for report writing.

This grants your reports or paper the credibility and professionalism it needs to be accepted in the academic world.

Apart from this, there are also a few minor things you need to take care of, that can make you stand out among your peers.

They say that the devil is in the details. So, some key elements in the writings can catch the attention of your audience and make you a respected researcher or student. These elements are reference and citation.

Chances might be that you never got to know about those elements or did not pay enough attention to them, but knowing the difference between them and when to use these is equally necessary as a writer.

The main difference between Reference and Citation is that reference is the list of sources that you used in your research paper, assignment, or articles and mention them towards the end of your writing.

Citations are all the sources you mention in the body of your writing. The information could be in direct quotes or paraphrased in your writings.

The other features that differentiate between reference and citation are shown in the reference table below.


 

Comparison Table Between Reference and Citation (in Tabular Form)

Parameter of ComparisonReferenceCitation
DefinitionList of sources you gained information from in your writings.The sources you mention inside the body of the text.
Place in textMentioned at the end of the writings.Mentioned in the body of your writings.
Manner in textMentioned as endnotes.Mentioned in the brackets.
IncludesName of author, the title of the publication or book, page number.Name of author, page number, or publication date.
ObjectiveTo support your point or argument in your article.To indicate the resource you have taken the information from.

 

What is Reference?

References are a list of sources at the end of your writings that support your point and arguments in your writings.

You may need to list your references in your articles, research papers, lab reports, publications, books, blogs, academic assignments, conference papers, etc.

It has a special format which needs to be followed and can be different for different institutions. Generally, you need to mention them as endnotes with every resource containing author name, the title of the article or publication, and the page number.

The sources in the engineering documents are typically listed in the order of the sources you have cited in your work. However, references may also follow an alphabetical number system.

That means, you list the references in your reports in the alphabetical order and cite the sources according to the number in the references list.

One very popular format is the APA (American Psychological Association) format. But there are other styles too like the Modern Language Association (MLA).

They may also use a different name for the heading of references. For example, it may be “Works cited” or” Bibliography”.

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It tells the readers that you read these items, consulted, and considered them in your writing pieces. The readers can further refer to those sources in case they need more information.

It is advised to writers to use reliable and genuine resources in their references as it lends credibility to their work. It further supports your ideas well.

Reference
Reference Example
 

What is Citation?

Citations are the sources you mention inside the body of your writings that tell the readers where the information has been taken from.

Whenever you talk about a theory or model in your work, you mention the author’s name and publication date to inform the readers about the authenticity of the information provided in the article.

It is usually mentioned in the brackets. If you mention a direct quote in your writing, then you may also need to write the page number in your citation.

So, a particular format is followed which was developed by the American Psychological Association (APA) and is called the APA format. However, different associations have created their unique formats too.

A piece of writing with citations increases the quality of your work and people perceive you as a respected writer or researcher.

Citing your work also saves you from plagiarism allegations because you are writing the source you have taken the information from. You are not taking the credit for those ideas. It also distinguishes your original ideas and thoughts in your paper from the other authors you have cited. This can tell readers what arguments the other authors have vs. what is your point of view.

Citation
Citation Example

Main Differences Between Reference and Citation

Some of the features that differentiate between reference and citation are given below:

  1. References are a list of sources you gained information from in your writings while citations are the sources you mention inside the body of the text.
  2. References are mentioned at the end of the writings while citations are mentioned in the body of your writings.
  3. References are mentioned as endnotes in the piece of writing whereas citations are mentioned in the brackets inside the text.
  4. Writing a reference includes the name of the author, the title of the publication or book, page number. Writing a citation includes the name of the author, page number, or publication date.
  5. The purpose of a reference is to support your point or argument in your article whereas the purpose of a citation is to indicate the resource you have taken the information from.

 

Conclusion

Using references and citations in your work shows that you acknowledge the work of other authors. The readers can also get to know about the sources, facts, and statistics used in your work.

Both of these elements strengthen your work and build your reputation among your peers from a novice researcher to an expert researcher.

So, having a deep knowledge about these tiny details sets you apart in your field from other researchers.


 

Word Cloud for Difference Between Reference and Citation

The following is a collection of the most used terms in this article on Reference and Citation. This should help in recalling related terms as used in this article at a later stage for you.

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Difference Between Reference and Citation
Word Cloud for Reference and Citation

 

References

  1. https://scholarworks.iupui.edu/bitstream/handle/1805/661/MRSQ%202006.pdf?sequence=1
  2. https://dl.acm.org/doi/abs/10.1145/3197026.3197048