Monthly Archives: December 2020

Research Bulletin, December 2020

Hello all,

Rather than the usual monthly recap, this edition is a bit is a writers Christmas special, which is about what might be called the Manchester style – or, referencing for everyone.

In my research writings I have been experimenting in recent years with something like an Easy Words style of referencing other works. I’d be interested to know if anyone else has been working along these lines too.

For non-academic readers, a referencing system is an agreed common way to link to the work of other people. This makes sure that everyone involved gets a fair credit for the work they have done.

However, I think that some of the referencing systems have become over-complicated and confusing. Firstly there isn’t one system, but at least six. And secondly, there a variations within each system. And they all use complicated punctuation to try to explain what is going on in each case.

To me, it’s essentially become like a coding system, and one where writers can be criticised and marked down for things like a misplaced semi-colon. And small groups of academics have started to adopt their own particular sub-styles and systems, I feel almost in a cliquish way.

Here are some examples of the main systems.

MLA: Hunt, Paul, ed. Stigma: The experience of disability. London; Dublin [etc.]: G. Chapman, 1966.

APA: Hunt, P. (Ed.). (1966). Stigma: The experience of disability. London; Dublin [etc.]: G. Chapman.

Chicago: Hunt, Paul, ed. Stigma: The experience of disability. London; Dublin [etc.]: G. Chapman, 1966.

Harvard: Hunt, P. ed., 1966. Stigma: The experience of disability. London; Dublin [etc.]: G. Chapman.

Vancouver: Hunt P, editor. Stigma: The experience of disability. London; Dublin [etc.]: G. Chapman; 1966.

(with thanks to the Google Scholar citation system)

My attempts at an Easy Words style of a clearer referencing has produced these types of examples.

Manchester: Paul Hunt, 1966, [edited a book called] Stigma: The experience of disability, [published by] G. Chapman [a company based in] London, Dublin and elsewhere.

and some other examples in the same style are –

Link, [a TV programme broadcast on] 22 June 1986, A form of Apartheid – a profile of Vic Finkelstein, [a television programme made by] Central TV, part of ITV.

Jenny Morris, 1997, Care or empowerment? A disability rights perspective, [a paper published in the journal] Social Policy & Administration, volume 31 issue 1, pages 54 – 60.

Jo Smith, 1 January 2018, [a post on] Twitter, screenshot accessible at www….

Carol Thomas, 1993, Disability and impairment, [chapter 2 in a book called] Disabling barriers – enabling environments, [published by] Sage [reprinted in 2004, 2013].

The basic suggestions so far are:

1. In the main text the common author-date system is still used. This means that the author’s family name and the year of their work are written in round brackets. This give people the credit for an idea or for their words describing that idea. For example, "A letter was printed in The Guardian newspaper (Hunt 1972)."

All the other suggestions here apply to the list of references (credits) at the end of what has been written or shown.

2. Use square brackets to add your explanations that will make the reference clearer.

3. Use people’s proper names, so its "Judy Heumann" and not "Heumann, Judy". Use people’s full names unless a person has deliberately chosen to be known by their initials only. For example, J K Rowling. The list can still be in alphabetic order of the family name.

4. Use bold if you need to emphasise a word or phrase, and do not use italics and do not use underlining. Don’t emphasise too many words. This helps visually impaired people.

5. Use punctuation as little as possible.

Feedback on this Manchester style is welcome, either in social media or directly to me.

Thanks for reading as ever, and with the season’s greetings,

stay safe,


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