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Secondary Referencing

What is Secondary Referencing?

Secondary referencing occurs when you are reading a book or journal article whose author uses facts or information from research done by someone else, and you want to use this to support your own assignment.

How to use Secondary Referencing

There are two ways you can approach a secondary reference:

  1. You locate the original research so that you can read, use and cite directly from this. This is often the preferred method as this shows that you have widened the research for your own assignment.

  2. Sometimes the original research may be difficult to find or gain access to. If you are confident that the secondary source is reliable and accurate you can refer to it in your own work using the Harvard rules for secondary referencing (see below for examples).

In-text Example:

You have read the book ‘Modern Organisations’ by Bill Jones (2007) and within this he refers to another author, Jean Smith, and her ideas of ‘organisational devolution’ (1987). You want to include Smith’s ideas within your assignment. To do this using the Harvard system your citation must indicate that you have used a secondary source and not the original work undertaken by Smith:

Jean Smith (1987), as summarized by Jones (2007) highlights the application of ‘organisational devolution’…


Smith’s (1987) ‘organisational devolution’ indicates this possibility (Jones, 2007, p. 45).

Bibliography Example:

For secondary referencing your bibliography only needs to give the details of the source that you have read for the assignment. Using the example above, you would refer to the main text (Jones 2007):

JONES, B. (2007) Modern Organisations. London: Routledge