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The Coventry University Guide to Referencing in Harvard Style: Secondary sources

Secondary sources

How to reference secondary sources


In this guide, the term 'secondary source' is used to refer to a source which is cited (for example, summarised or reviewed) within another source (see Fig. 1 below).


Example of the use of a secondary source text

Fig. 1 Secondary source (Lungu 2008: 4)


  • The term 'secondary source' may have different meanings in other contexts. Please note that the guidance below only refers to sources that meet the criteria in the definition above.
  • Secondary sources may be considered recycled sources. Do not rely on using secondary sources if you can help it because this can suggest that you do not have the research skills to locate the original source. It is possible that the source you are interested in has been misquoted or misunderstood by the writer you are reading, so you should read the original to prevent repeating any errors.
  • The following examples refer to the secondary source illustrated in Fig. 1.

In-text citation

 

Note

  • You have two options for referencing secondary sources: retrieve the original source or reference the secondary citation.

Example 1 (retrieve the original source)

  • If you are reading a source in which another source is cited, first try to find the original.
  • Check in the footnotes, bibliography, or List of References in the source to find information about the original.
  • If you cannot find the original in the University Library, ask at the Enquiry Desk about ordering the original source via the inter-library loan service.
According to Jameson (1992: 365), 'even if everything is spatial, this postmodern reality here is somehow more spatial than everything else'.
Scholars of postmodernism have tried to prove that 'even if everything is spatial, this postmodern reality here is somehow more spatial than everything else' (Jameson 1992: 365).

 

Components

  • If you can obtain the original source, follow the guidance appropriate to the type of source.

Example 2 (cite as a secondary source)

  • If it is not possible to retrieve the original source, cite the idea or text as a secondary source, following the guidance appropriate to each type of source used. 
 
According to Jameson (1992:365 cited in Lungu 2008: 4), 'even if everything is spatial, this postmodern reality here is somehow more spatial than everything else'.
Scholars of postmodernism have tried to prove that 'even if everything is spatial, this postmodern reality here is somehow more spatial than everything else' (Jameson 1992: 365 cited in Lungu 2008: 4).

 

Components

If you do not mention the author’s name in your own writing, in brackets give:

  • Surname of author(s).
  • Year.
  • (Page number(s) preceded by a colon if you refer to information that can be retrieved on a specific page or page range)

List of References entry

 

Example

Jameson, F. (1992) Postmodernism, or, The Cultural Logic of Late Capitalism. London: Verso. cited in Lungu, A.
(2008) 'Marx, Postmodernism, and Spatial Configurations in Jameson and Lefebvre' CLCWeb: Comparative Literature and Culture [online] 10 (1), 1-11: 4. available from <http://dx.doi.org/10.7771/1481-4374.1327> [7 January 2016]

 

Components

  • Full publication details of the original source as normal, dependent on source type.
  • Full stop.
  • Write ‘cited in’ and give full publication details of the source you have actually read.
  • A colon, then the page number of the source you have actually read.

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