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Referencing and citations - OSCOLA: Home

Referencing and citations - OSCOLA

Other referencing systems

The Bluebook: A uniform System of Citation - The most commonly used citation system in the US, and US focused despite being prescriptive about other jurisdictions. Not freely available online, copies can be consulted here in the library.

University of Chicago Manual of Legal Citation (Maroonbook) - Freely available via the link, this was designed as a less confusing and scaled down version of the Harvard Bluebook.

Canadian Guide to Uniform Legal Citation (McGill Guide) The major Canadian system. Not freely available online.



The Oxford Standard for Citation of Legal Authorities (OSCOLA) is the only UK born legal citation system, and since its inception in 2000 it has become the most commonly used system in UK higher education.

It provides a simple, uniform way to reference all types of primary and secondary materials which you will need to cite in your written work. Failure to consistently comply with these standards could see your work being marked down. All quotations, direct and indirect references, and cited examples need to be clearly marked up in footnotes on each page (not end notes), with enough information to allow your reader to refer to the same sources as you.

This guide is a brief introduction to using OSCOLA to cite your references, with examples and pointers on where to find extra help.

Why do we need to reference?

As noted above, one of the main reasons we need to reference our work is to allow the reader to see where you are getting your information from, and to track back to your source material if required.

Correct referencing of your work will also help you avoid any accusations of academic plagiarism - the fraudulent attempt to pass off somebody else's thoughts, words or arguments as your own original work. This is achieved by accurately crediting all sources you have used in your writing, whether that be a direct quotation, or a reworded argument. Most institutions now have sophisticated software which will allow them to analyse submitted work checking for similarity to other work from a huge array of sources, so unaccredited quotes and arguments are very likely to get picked up.

The best way to avoid falling victim to accidental plagiarism is to keep thorough notes of all your source material, and make sure you have a footnote every single time you use or refer to somebody else.