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Citing and Referencing for Law

A guide covering citing and referencing using OSCOLA, with an online tutorial, hints and tips, and links for further help.

Citing and Referencing using OSCOLA

This interactive tutorial covers:
  • OSCOLA and what it is
  • The importance of citing and referencing
  • How to avoid plagiarism
  • How to reference specific sources
There are questions along the way to check your understanding.

Tip for screen reader users. You may wish to adjust the verbosity settings in your screenreader to read all punctuation and text attributes when you reach the examples.

Citing and Referencing using OSCOLA

Part One

Welcome to this tutorial.

In Part 1 you will learn…

Why you should cite and reference

What is plagiarism and how to avoid it

How to use OSCOLA to cite and reference

Character 1:    Let’s begin!

1. Why you should cite and reference

Character 1:    Let’s first define what a citation is:

A citation tells the reader where to find a specific source that you mention in your writing.

Now let’s look at why you should cite and reference.

Reason 1: Academic convention (get marks!)

Reason 2: Consistent and persuasive argument

Example of citing and referencing:

“Legal writing is more persuasive when the author refers to legal materials in a clear, consistent and familiar way. When it is easy to identify and to find the author’s sources, it becomes easier for the reader to follow the argument.” ¹

  1. Faculty of Law, University of Oxford ‘OSCOLA: Oxford University Standard for the Citation of Legal Authorities’ (4th edn, Hart 2012)

Character 1:    This is an example of OSCOLA, but more on that later!

Reason 3: Avoid Plagiarism

Chapter 1 of a Legal Book: Interesting text that will support my point, don’t just copy me!

Question

Why should we cite and reference?

Correct answers include:

To avoid plagiarism .

To conform to academic convention .

To make a consistent and persuasive argument

2. What constitutes plagiarism and how to avoid it

Plagiarism is…

Copying and pasting (e.g. from a book)

Concealing sources (deliberately not referencing others work)

Collusion, e.g. innocently using work generated from a discussion

Misinterpreting common knowledge i.e. bending the facts to suit your argument

Self plagiarism - using a large proportion of work that you have previously submitted as an assignment

Character 2:    How can you avoid plagiarism?

1: Quoting

Example: The chief justice explained that this power ‘is not limited to defence against aggression from a foreign nation.’

2: Paraphrasing

Example:

Original- Her life spanned years of incredible change for women.

Paraphrase- Mary lived through an era of liberating reform for women.

3: Summarising

Putting the main points of a body of work into your own words

4: Plus, Correct citing and referencing!

3. How to use OSCOLA to cite and reference

Character 1:    As we mentioned earlier a citation tells the reader where to find a specific source that you mention in your writing

At City Law School we use OSCOLA

OSCOLA is a way of citing and referencing legal materials in legal writing

OSCOLA stands for the Oxford University Standard for the Citation of Legal Authorities

Character 1:    OSCOLA uses a footnote style, all citations are in footnotes

There are no ‘in text’ citations

OSCOLA is only used for citations, it is not a writing guide

Let’s look at an example of OSCOLA referencing

Example: Choo and Nash state that this new piece of legislation ‘led to the creation by the courts of a prima facie rule of exclusion of evidence obtained in breach of the Act’.¹ A recent case in the Supreme Court relates to this point of law.² It has been noted that after the new act came into force, the courts adopted a prima facie rule that evidence obtained in breach of the legislation was to be excluded, except in certain restricted circumstances.³ Hart asserts this is a significant change.4

How do these numbers correspond to the footnotes?

¹ Andrew L-T Choo and Susan Nash, ‘Improperly Obtained Evidence in the Commonwealth: Lessons for England and Wales?’ (2007) 11 E&P 75.

² Lucasfilm Ltd v Ainsworth [2011] UKSC 39, [2012] 1 AC 208.

³ Choo and Nash (n 1) 100.

4 Chris Hart, Doing a Literature Review (Sage 1998).

You will also need a bibliography at the end of the assignment which we will look at later

Character 2:    So you only add numbers in the body of the assignment?

Character 1:    That’s right! All the information about the source goes in the footnote and the bibliography

Character 2:    How do I add footnotes in Word?

Character 1:    Let’s take a look…

Text:    Click on the References tab

Click Insert Footnote

Footnotes will be added at the end of the document

Character 1:    The number of footnotes can vary wildly, it all depends on what you are doing and how your argument goes

Character 2:    So there’s no correct number of footnotes?

Character 1:    That’s right!

Now let’s talk about the OSCOLA handbook

There are three main sections of the handbook

Section 1 General Principles: gives you an overview of OSCOLA

Section 2 Primary Sources: tells you how to cite cases and legislation

Section 3 Secondary Sources: tells you how to cite everything else, journals, websites etc…

If you can’t find the rule you need in sections 2 or 3, then use the general principles in section 1

Two golden rules when using OSCOLA:

Be consistent - if you can’t find the rule you need then use the general principles and use similar citations throughout

Consider your reader - can they follow your argument and find your sources easily?

Top Tips:

If the source exists in print, cite as print

If the source has an ISBN, cite as a book

In the footnote the whole name is displayed followed by a comma, e.g. John Smith,

In the bibliography only surname followed by initials and a comma are used, e.g. Smith J,

You have completed part 1.

Part 2 Primary Sources

In Part 2, you will learn…

How to cite case law

How to cite statutes, i.e. acts

How to cite international and foreign legal materials

Character 1: Let’s go!

1. How to cite case law

Character 1: When citing cases, you must use the law report citation as well as the  neutral citation:

Law report: Gill v Woodall [2011] 3 W.L.R. 85

Neutral citation: Gill v Woodall [2010] EWCA Civ 1430

Character 1: The law report citation identifies what you have read, whereas the neutral citation is the same regardless of source. To correctly cite cases using OSCOLA you need both the law report and the neutral citation.

This is the format you should use, in this order: Party names (in italics), Neutral citation (followed by a comma), the name of the Law Report

Character 1: Notice the italics and comma

For example: Gill v Woodall [2010] EWCA Civ 1430, 3 WLR 85

Character 1: This is Rule 2.1 in the OSCOLA Handbook. Use this in both the footnote and bibliography. Notice that the full stops have been removed from ‘WLR’ for the law report citation.

Top tip: Prior to 2001, cases don’t have neutral citations so use the law report series.

Pinpoints: A pinpoint is where you need to refer to a particular page, paragraph or section of a source. They go in your footnotes.

In case law they look like this

For a page: Lucasfilm Ltd v Ainsworth [2011] UKSC 39, [2012] 1 AC 208, 210.

For a paragraph: Lucasfilm Ltd v Ainsworth [2011] UKSC 39, [2012] 1 AC 208, [9].

If the basic citation ends with a number you need a comma BEFORE the pinpoint as below

Top tip: If you give the full party names in the text, you don’t need to repeat the party names in the footnote. This will save on your word count

Character 2: What about EU case law?

Character 1: You can refer to sections 2.6 and 2.7 of the OSCOLA handbook. Ideally you should use the European Case Law Identifier (ECIL) which is newer than the current edition of OSCOLA. It’s good practice!

Character 2: Can you give me an example?

Character 1: Sure! The citation functions like a neutral citation. The case number, followed by the case name, followed by the ECLI, and finally the citation of the official source.

For example: Case C-176/03 Commission v Council EU:C:2005:542, [2005] ECR I-7879

Character 1:  Let’s take a closer look at the ECLI! ‘EU’ indicates that it is a decision delivered by one of the courts of the EU. ‘C’ indicates that the decision was delivered by the Court of Justice. ‘2005’ is the year the decision as made. ‘542’ indicates that it is the 542nd ECLI assigned in respect of the year in question.

2.  How to cite statutes

Character 2: So how do statutes work?

Character 1: They’re pretty simple!

Character 2: Phew!

Character 1: Cite the short act title like this in both the footnote and bibliography. For example, Bacon Industry Act 1938. Pinpoint the section by adding the section after a comma, and ending with a full stop. For example, Bacon Industry Act 1938, s53.

Character 2: That IS pretty simple!

Character 1: Let’s move on then!

3.  How to cite international and foreign legal materials

Character 2: Hmm…what’s the difference between international and foreign?

Character 1: ‘International’ means between nations, ‘foreign’ means belonging to one nation

Character 2: Right…I think I understand

Character 1: Well let’s see shall we, see if you can answer this question

Top tip: to cite international legal materials, refer to the 2006 edition of the OSCOLA handbook. These are not covered in the 2012 edition!

Foreign Legal Materials: When citing foreign materials, cite primary sources as in their home jurisdiction.

Top tip: Drop the full stops in any abbreviations when citing foreign materials. See the section 4.3 appendix of the OSCOLA Handbook for guides on other jurisdictions.

You have completed part 2!

Part 3 Secondary Sources

Character 1: We’ve looked at avoiding plagiarism, the general principles of OSCOLA and how to cite primary sources and legislation.

Now let’s look at secondary sources.

Character 2: So that’s books, journal articles, websites etc?

Character 1: Yes!

Specifically, we will learn...

- How to cite books, book chapters and e-books

- How to cite journal articles

- How to cite websites and blogs

- How to cite a source as cited in a secondary source

Character 1: Let’s begin

1. How to cite books, book chapters and e-books

Character 1: To correctly cite books remember these three things...

- Cite the author’s name exactly as it appears in the text

- Italicise the title of the book

- Abbreviate ‘edition’ to ‘edn’

Character 1: Let’s look at some examples...

Examples:

In a footnote

Timothy Endicott, Administrative Law (3rd edn, OUP 2015).      

Footnote with a page number (pinpoint)

Timothy Endicott, Administrative Law (3rd edn, OUP 2015) 317.

In a bibliography

Endicott T, Administrative Law (3rd edn, OUP 2015)

Character 1: All of the book titles are italicised; ‘edition’ is abbreviated to ‘edn’. The author’s name is at it appears in the text, however... remember that the author’s surname goes first in the bibliography followed by any initials.

Character 2: Please help me, how do I cite a chapter if it’s been written by a different author to the book?

Character 1: Don’t worry, it’s not difficult. Let’s take a look.

Example: John Cartwright, ‘The Fiction of the “Reasonable Man”’ in AG Castermans and others (eds), Ex Libris Hans Nieuwenhuis (Kluwer 2009).

Character 1: This is the format you should use in the footnote. The author of the chapter and the chapter name followed by the author(s) of the book and the book name, and then the publisher and year of publication.

For the bibliography, remember the rule – surname followed by initial.

Example:

Cartwright J, ‘The Fiction of the “Reasonable Man”’ in AG Castermans and others (eds), Ex Libris Hans Nieuwenhuis (Kluwer 2009).

Question:

Which of these is the correct citation for pinpointing page 99 of Michael J. Allen’s Criminal Law book?

Michael J. Allen, Criminal Law (14th edn, OUP 2017) 99

Michael J. Allen, Criminal Law (14th edn, OUP 2017) page 99

Michael J. Allen, Criminal Law (14th edn, OUP 2017) 99.

The correct answer is Michael J. Allen, Criminal Law (14th edn, OUP 2017) 99.

Character 1: I hope you’re happier now.

Character 2: Yes. Thanks!

Character 2: Although I will mostly be reading e-books. How do I cite these?

Character 1: If the pagination is the same as the print edition, then it’s simple, cite it as a print book!

E-books

If the e-book has no page numbers, follow the normal book (or edited book) citation form, including the e-book type/edition before the publisher.

For ‘pinpoints’ where there are no page numbers, provide chapter / section number / section name and subsection or paragraph number if provided.

Top tip: The OSCOLA rules for e-books are 3.1.4 and 3.2.

2. How to cite journal articles

Character 1: Let’s look at how to cite journal articles.

To cute a journal article, the rules around the author’s name are the same, put the journal title in single quotation marks and remember to abbreviate the journal publication title.

Official abbreviation for journals and law reports can be found using the Cardiff Index to Legal Abbreviations: legalabbrevs.cardiff.ac.uk

Remember OSCOLA removes any full stops and punctuation.

Example:

Journal name – Entertainment Law Review

Official abbreviation – Ent. L.R.

For OSCOLA this becomes Ent LR

Let’s look at some journal article citations:

In footnote

Luxmi Rajanayagam, ‘Ukulele Bands Battle over IP Rights’ (2015) 26 Ent LR 299.

In footnote with pinpoint

Luxmi Rajanayagam, ‘Ukulele Bands Battle over IP Rights’ (2015) 26 Ent LR 299, 300.

In bibliography

Rajanayagam L, ‘Ukulele Bands Battle over IP Rights’ (2015) 26 Ent LR 299

Questions:

Choose the correct statements and bibliographic citation from the following options.:

Option 1) OSCOLA journal citations use the author’s full name in a footnote.

Option 2) OSCOLA journal citations use the author’s initials in a footnote.

Option 1 is correct.

Option 3) In OSCOLA citations, a journal article is surrounded by single quotation marks.

Option 4) In OSCOLA citations, a journal article is surrounded by double quotation marks.

Option 3 is correct.

Option 5) Official abbreviations for journals can be found in the Oxford Index to Legal Abbreviations.

Option 6) Official abbreviations for journals can be found in the Cardiff Index to Legal Abbreviations.

Option 6 is correct

Option 7) Rajanayagam L, ‘Ukulele Bands Battle over IP Rights’ (2015) 26 Ent. L.R. 299.

Option 8) Rajanayagam L, ‘Ukulele Bands Battle over IP Rights’ (2015) 26 Ent LR 299

Option 8 is correct (it has removed the punctuation from the abbreviation, and ends in a full stop.)

3. How to cite websites and blogs

Character 1: Let’s look at how to cite websites and blogs.

Examples:

In footnote

Sarah Cole, ‘Virtual Friend Fires Employee’ (Naked Law, 1 May 2009) < www.nakedlaw.com/2009/05/index.html >  accessed 19 November 2009.

In bibliography

Cole S, ‘Virtual Friend Fires Employee’ (Naked Law, 1 May 2009) < www.nakedlaw.com/2009/05/index.html >  accessed 19 November 2009

Character 1: Don’t forget to include the date accessed. Websites and blogs can be updated and changed at any time, so the date you read it is really important.

The OSCOLA rule for websites and blogs is 3.4.8.

Top tip

You don’t need to include http:// or https:// when citing websites and blogs.

4. How to cite a source as cited in a secondary source

Character 2: One last thing! What if I want to cite something that I’ve only read in someone else’s book?

Character 1: If you haven’t read the original, this would be called a Secondary reference, here’s how to do it...

Example:

WL Clay, The Prison Chaplain: A Memoir of the Reverend John Clay (London 1861) 554 (as cited in M Wiener, Reconstructing the Criminal Culture, Law and Policy in England 1830-1914 (CUP 1990) 79).  

Character 2: Hmm... so the full citation for the original book is provided in brackets, prefixed with ‘as cited in’.

Character 1: That’s right. Note the page number of both the secondary and the original source are included.

Character 1: Details of how to cite secondary references can be found on the FAQ page of the OSCOLA website.

Congratulations you have completed Part 3 and this tutorial!

The end.

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