Overall RAP Guidelines

Research and Analysis Project Guidelines


In this section, we explain a few general aspects of the Research and Analysis Project (RAP) for ACCA students who are planning on submitting a RAP to the Oxford Brookes University (OBU) in order to obtain a BSc. Hons. Degree in Applied Accounting.

The submission of RAP is the final component in the OBU BSc. Degree scheme. The RAP consists of two major components: 1. Research Report (RR) and 2. Skills and Learning Statement (SLS). Also required is a presentation to the mentor. The Research Report needs to contain up to 7,500-words and the Skills and Learning Statement needs to contain up to 2,000-words.

You need a passing grade on both parts of the RAP (the RR and SLS) for passing the RAP. If you get an insufficient grade on any component, you will be rewarded with a fail grade for the whole RAP project. You must pass the RR and SLS simultaneously, in the same submission of RAP.

You are allowed a maximum of three chances for passing the RAP. You will not be allowed to continue with obtaining a BSc Degree if you fail in passing the RAP in the three allowed attempts. In the case of unsuccessful passing of the RAP, you are allowed to re-submit the same project or submit a new project. In this kind of case,  you can submit three different projects, or the same project three times.

The necessary research required for completion of the RAP needs to be conducted specifically for the chosen project. You are not permitted to take an already completed workplace or research report and adjust it to use in the RAP. You are not allowed to use a research project that has been used for submission to another educational institution, or for a different degree.

The RAP needs to be your own original work. OBU has very strict rules and regulative regarding cheating. You should be aware of this regulation, and they can be found on the OBU website.  The candidates that are caught cheating will be permanently expelled from the BSc. Degree program and the ACCA can choose to take disciplinary action against these students.  For more information on this matter, Click here

Project topic areas and titles

The Oxford Brookes University has approved 20 topic areas from which you can choose any one topic on which you will create your RAP it. Following is the list of approved topics:

  1. Analysis and evaluation of budgetary control system and its link with decision making and performance management
  2. Evaluation of how introduction of new technology can help in achieving business objectives
  3. Assessment of potential effects of impending laws and regulations on the operations and financial position
  4. A review of business management and accounting issues of environmental costs
  5. Evaluation of use and impact of short term and long term Islamic financial instruments
  6. Review of key factors in the employee’s motivation
  7. Evaluation of effects of restructuring of operational activities on the financial performance
  8. Analysis and evaluation of business and financial performance over a period of three years
  9. Evaluation of planning and implementation of information system
  10. Review of use and effectiveness of costing techniques
  11. Investigation into operational and financial costs and benefits of internal audit/review activities
  12. Investigation into potential effects of a proposed accounting standard on business activities and financial statements
  13. Evaluation of contribution of human resource activities in achievement of business and financial objectives.
  14. Appraisal of financial and business objectives of a strategic investment and its impact on stakeholders
  15. Analysis and evaluation of the management of working capital and its effect on funding strategies over a period of 3 years
  16. Evaluation of operational and financial risk management
  17. Select an organisation that has been identified as having weak corporate governance structures within the past 5 years. Critically evaluate their corporate governance practices including an assessment of the origins of the corporate governance issue(s) and the organisation’s response.
  18. Review of marketing strategies and their effectiveness
  19. Evaluation of operational and financial outcomes of a merger or acquisition
  20. Select an organisation that has been identified as having weak social responsibility practices within the past 5 years. Critically evaluate their social responsibility practices, including an assessment of the origins of the problem(s) and the organisation’s response and the impact of this on the organisation’s key stakeholders.

Any given topic from the list above is available for your choosing, and you can engage yourself in research on an organization of your choice, but any project on topic 8 or topic 15 in November 2017 or May 2018 must be based on sector specific organizations, based on the Industry Classification Benchmark (ICB). Further details on ICB can be found on the following link:


For period 35 (November 2017) and period 36 (May 2018) these sectors are:

2713 Aerospace

Manufacturers, assemblers and distributors of aircraft and aircraft parts primarily used in commercial or private air transport. Excludes manufacturers of communications satellites, which are classified under Telecommunications Equipment.

3577 Food Products

Food producers, including meatpacking, snacks, fruits, vegetables, dairy products and frozen seafood. Includes producers of pet food and manufacturers of dietary supplements, vitamins and related items. Excludes producers of fruit juices, tea, coffee, bottled water and other non-alcoholic beverages, which are classified under Soft Drinks.

5753 Hotels

Operators and managers of hotels, motels, lodges, resorts, spas and campgrounds.

These sectors are available to students that are submitting RAP for the first time, or to students that change company and/or topic in the November 2017 (period 35) and May 2018 (period 36).

The industry sectors are updated by Oxford Brookes University and published each year in June/July for the next two submission periods.

For every other topic (besides topics 8 and 15), do not forget the requirement to base your research on the more recent organizational activities or processes, instead of using historical events. (For these intents and purposes, the term “historical” refers to events and activities that occurred more than three full calendar years before the start of the current submission period.)

For example, if you are to submit a project in May 2018 based on topic 19, then the merger or acquisition would’ve had to happen after January 1 2015.

The main focus of your project research must be an analysis/evaluation of the project topic area issues in the context of your chosen organization.

There are two crucial aspects to consider to ensure your success in this project:

  1. Your RAP must be based on one organization.
  2. This analysis must be a business analysis, and not just a financial analysis.

In order to produce a quality Research and Analysis Project Title, you need to use the analysis/evaluation requirement of the RAP with the chosen topic area and combine it with the chosen organization.

The candidates are obligated to choose any one of the 20 provided topics. The candidates are not allowed to suggest or request any other topic are for their RAP.

Key factors for selecting the appropriate topic 

The preparation of RAP is quite different from the other ACCA studies and examinations. you will be required to make considerable choices in order to produce a high – quality RAP. Arguably the most important choice is the choosing of the appropriate topic for the RAP. You should be very careful when making this choice, as this choice will have a significant impact on your future success or failure. You should very carefully consider the following factors before you make your final decision.

 (I) Knowledge and Understanding of Topic Area:

The first thing you should evaluate is your knowledge and understanding of the topic. You should base your choice on a topic for which you are confident and possess appropriate knowledge and understanding.

Your choice should be encouraged by the grades and marks on the examinations or assessment tests. For example, if you believe that evaluation of business and financial performance of an organization is your strong side, this being supported by your good grades in F7 and F9 papers, then we advise you choose Topic 8 for your RAP.

Similar to this, if you think that you possess a fair knowledge and sufficient understanding of existing and impending laws and legislations, and have high passing marks for F4, then you should choose Topic 3.

(II) Your strengths and Weakness:

Your own strengths and weaknesses should be considered when choosing a topic. You should ask yourself if you think you possess the necessary abilities to handle the chosen topic? What possible weaknesses could impair your performance?

For example, some people are very good at analyzing and evaluating financial and business performances of a given business; others are good at assessing the quality of the corporate governance, while some have the ability to understand the factors that motivate employees.

You should make an evaluation of your own real strengths and weaknesses, and based on the results you should choose the topic that fits your abilities. For example, if you are very good in the assessment of corporate governance of an organization, then you should opt for Topic 17.

Another factor that needs to have a major impact on your choice of topic is the availability of information needed for your Research and Analysis Project. You should carefully consider if and where you can find accurate and reliable information. The topic you choose should be backed by sufficient, high – quality information.

(III) Access to Information

Another factor that needs to have a major impact on your choice of topic is the availability of information needed for your Research and Analysis Project. You should carefully consider if and where you can find accurate and reliable information. The topic you choose should be backed by sufficient, high – quality information.

(IV) Sources of Information:

In order to gather suitable information, you must have access to sufficient, reliable sources of information. The research required for the preparation of your RAP needs to have abundant information gathered from a variety of sources. Information gathered only from one or two sources will most likely not be enough for creating a quality RAP. That is why you need to choose a topic for which you will have multiple sources of information, and will be able to gather all the required data and information and conduct a proper analysis.

You will need internal information for some topics. Topic 6 is based on critical review of the key factors that affect employee’s motivation in an organization, and Topic 10 is about cost techniques. You will require an internal source of information to properly complete RAP on these topics. The proper and sufficient sources of internal information have a major role in the completion of these topics, so you must ensure beforehand that you have this kind of information sources available, and then make a final decision on the topic for your RAP.

(V) Your Work Experience:

Another thing that will help you in creating a quality RAP is your work experience. If you have any kind of work experience, take that into consideration while making the choice for your RAP topic.

The topic area you choose should be related to your work experience. If for example, you have worked in evaluating costing techniques, then you should choose Topic 10. If you have worked in a law firm or the legal department in a major organization, then you should choose a topic closely related to this work, such as Topic 3 that is about the assessment of the potential effects of impending legislation on the operations and financial position of an organization.

Key factors for selecting the appropriate company

After you make the decision and choose the topic on which you will base your RAP, the next decision is the selection of proper organization for your RAP. You must be able to gather the necessary data for analysis o your chosen company. The choice of the organization should also be based on the following factors:

(I) Size of the Organization

Even though OBU does not bind you to choose a significantly sized company, it is recommended that you still chose a large organization. The main reason behind this recommendation is that the information about large companies is more readily available. Because large organizations have more involved sides, there is more public information about them instead of small size companies.

(II) Organizational Structure:

The organizational structure of the company is important, and an organization with a simple structure is preferred over an organization with a complex organizational structure. This is backed by the simple explanation that you would have to waste your time and efforts on determining and understanding the overall structure. Also, if your research and analysis are done on such a company, you will be distracted by the organizational structure, and it would be more difficult and confusing to focus on the task at hand.

Also, depending on the chosen topic, you may have to choose a competitor company to make a comparison between the companies. If the selected company has a complex structure, this complicates your choice for competitor organization.

(III) Number of Products:

You should aim to choose an organization that offers fewer products. It is recommended that the chosen organization should not have more than 4 or 5 products. Of the company has too many products, then it may be complicated to handle all the necessary information on all the products. Also, if the selected company has a diverse range of products, then it may be difficult to select a suitable competitor organization.

The limit of words in the RAP is about 7,500 words. With choosing a company with a vast number of products, the information on products and writing the analysis and evaluation may become too long to fit with the prescribed word count for RAP.

If your selected topic has little to no relation to the number of products of the chosen company, then you can choose an organization with a diverse range of products.

(IV) Listed or non-listed organization

Another factor to consider is choosing a company that is listed on the stock exchange or a company that is not listed. It is preferred to choose a listed company. The stock exchange listed companies have more publicly available information as opposed to the non-listed companies.

Listed companies are required to publish annual financial statements, this information are available to the public. The financial statements are the most important and reliable sources of information about an organization. Many information can be found in the financial statements, so this is a valuable source for the creation of RAP.

For the publicly listed organization, there are other sources of information. The stock exchange,  for example, can provide much important information about listed companies. Trade organizations, chambers of commerce and similar organizations are also a valuable source of information on listed companies.

(V) Country of Organization

The country or the organization is also an important factor to consider when choosing an organization. It is recommended that you chose a country that you are familiar with, as the political, social and the economic factors have deep impacts on any organization. You need to be familiar with these factors and understand how these factors influence your chosen company. It more likely that you will be familiar with this kind of factors in your country on living. That is why it is recommended that you chose a company/organization from the country you live in.

It is also easier and more productive to gather information of your chosen organization is in your country. You may have to meet an employee of your chosen organization in order to obtain information that is not available through external sources or is not given via standard mailing services. For such an occasion where traveling is involved, it is more convenient that your selected company is in the same country as yourself.

(VI) Familiarity with the Organization:

Familiarity with the chosen organization is an important factor. If you are familiar with a certain organization, you should select that organization for the preparation of your RAP. Familiarity means that you have substantial knowledge of the organizational structure, hierarchy, products, operations, business practices and markets.

If would be a lot easier to create a high – quality RAP for such a company, and your research and analysis is more likely to be more detailed if you choose an organization that you are familiar with.

(VII) Industry of the Organization

The industry of the organization you are selecting for your RAP is also important. It is preferred that you chose an organization that is a part of a major industry. There is more public information for such large scale industries. Your research may require you to make a comparison between companies in the same industry. Of you may have to do a comparison between the performances of your chosen organization to the performances of the whole industry or compare to the industry benchmarks. In these cases, you will need information about the industry as a whole. The information is more readily available for large size industries that have a significant role in the overall economy.

Guidelines for Sources of Information

Once you select your topic and decide on the organization you are going to base your research on; the next thing you need to decide are the sources of information you are going to use for your research. The sources you are going to use to gather the required information are dependant on the chosen topic and the objectives of your research. Only a single source of information is never sufficient for the preparation of your RAP. Relying only on one source of information can result in serious failure, thus you will have to use multiple sources of information, several of them are mentioned below:

(I) Primary or secondary sources:

It is important to have access to both primary and secondary sources of information, but the decision will depend on your chosen topic. It is always better to use both primary and secondary sources of information. OBU does not require you to use only primary sources of information; and if the secondary sources offer enough proper information for the preparation of RAP, then you can completely base your research on such sources of information.

(ii) Financial Statements:

One of the most reliable and important sources of information on a company/organization is its financial statements. Because they are prepared according to the obligation toward the shareholders, they are full of useable information, and you can use most of this information.

(III) Internet Sources:

The internet is a very versatile and well-supplied source of information. There are gigabytes of information on any topic available online. But, you should be careful about the reliability of the information you get online. Always check the credentials of the websites you are using as sources of information for your RAP.

An issue with the internet as a source of information is the abundance of information. You will have to make decisions on the pieces of information you are going to use, and which to ignore. You should be very careful about the information you are going to use, as it has to be relevant to the topic of your RAP and its objectives.

(IV) Newspapers and Journals

An important source of independent information is the newspapers and journals. These are external sources of information, and they provide independent opinions about your chosen organizations. The information found in this kind of sources may be of help in the critical analysis of the chosen organization.

(V) Other institutions:

Stock exchanges, trade organizations, chambers of commerce, and trade unions are also places where reliable information about the chosen company can be found. These are external, independent sources of information, and usually provide reliable, unbiased information about your chosen organization.

(VI) Academic Sources

You need to use academic sources for deciding which accounting and business theories, models, techniques, and concepts will be helpful for you. You will need these models and theories etc. to understand the related issues in the selected organization, and to analyze and evaluate the other information that you have gathered.

Guidelines for Research Approach

After you decide on a topic, suitable organization and find the appropriate sources of information, the start of the research project is the next phase. One major cause for failing the RAP are issues in the research process. Almost 50% of first time fails are due to an inappropriate research process. We are here to provide guidelines that will assist you in conducting an effective and fruitful research process.

A most important thing is the demystification of the process. For many candidates, the research for the purpose of creating the RAP will be their first experience of this kind. It is likely that many students will face uncertainties about the research, and the first thing you need to do while starting the research is to clear the mysteries in your head.

The most common definition of research is to inquire, look into, find out or investigate. You can understand this term better through the following example: you want to buy a car. You will have to decide on the type of car you want, the make, model, size and many other issues related to the car. After this, you select a few models and evaluate them by studying relevant reviews, and after them, you go for a test drive of the selected car. It is after this process that you make your final decision on the car that best fits your requirements. The whole process of gathering and evaluation the information about the car is called “research”.

The RAP is an example of the applied business research. An applied business research is conducted in a systematic and well-planned manner and it is aimed at contributing to the solution of certain problems or issues or to increase the understanding of their significance.

  • To start with the process, you should first decide what are the objectives of your project and then you should determine your research questions. You should steer your research process in accordance with your project objectives and research questions.
  • Then you should start with the gathering of the necessary information that will enable you to complete the project objectives and answer the research questions. You can use whatever sources you seem appropriate; use primary and/or secondary sources of information, various relevant websites, newspapers, journals, magazines, books, financial statements, published analysis reports of other writers, etc.
  • After you have collected all necessary information, you need to have a well-organized way of saving you material. It is recommended that you keep copies of financial reports, questionnaire answers, excerpts from journals, reports, or magazines, and establish an effective manner of easily reaching all needed data. The links from the relevant websites and all the data downloaded via your internet research should be also saved in an organized and accessible manner.
  • After you have collected all necessary information, you need to have a well-organized way of saving you material. It is recommended that you keep copies of financial reports, questionnaire answers, excerpts from journals, reports, or magazines, and establish an effective manner of easily reaching all needed data. The links from the relevant websites and all the data downloaded via your internet research should be also saved in an organized and accessible manner.

You should always save your information until the end of the RAP and the official notice about the grading of your RAP from OBU. OBU has the right to ask for any additional evidence about the research and gathering of information.

  • After you have gathered the necessary data, the following step is to summarize and classify the gathered information into appropriate groups. If, for example, your RAP includes ratio analysis, collect and classify any relevant information on this work in a group.
  • After, analyze and assess the relevance of the information and estimate the results. If, for example, your RAP includes ratio analysis, calculate all necessary ratios during this phase.  Always prepare notes, and make drafts depending on the results of the analysis of the information, as they are very helpful for the preparation of the Research Report.
  • If at any stage you find that the collected information is not sufficient, and some of the research questions are not answered to your standards, then gather additional information.

Research Report Guidance

The Research Report is the first one of the two components of the RAP. Here we offer explanations of the preparation of the Research Report.

There are an established structure and content in the preparation of the Research Reports, and it should be closely followed. One of the benefits of going according to the recommended structure is that it serves as a checklist, and reflects the assessment criteria. Even though it is not strictly mandatory to follow an established structure and content, still it is advised to closely follow it. If you establish your own structure and content, then you risk the possibility to forget or leave out some important parts and this may be a cause for the failure of the RAP. The presentation of the entire project is very important, so it is advised in favor of following the recommended structure and content of the Research Report.

Below are the main structure and approximate word distribution per the OBU recommendations.

(I) Title Page

The title page of the Research Report should contain the title of the report. The title is the topic you have chosen for the RAP. If you have selected topic 6, then the proposed title would be “An Analysis of the Key Factors or Indicators in the Motivation of Employees in ABC”

The front page should contain the name of your chosen organization. Other information that should be present on this page is the ACCA registration number, the date of your RAP submission (month and year) and overall word count.

(II) Content Page

The next page of the Research Report is the page of contents. The contents page should be well organized and state the page numbering. It is recommended that this task is done after the completion of the report, that way you will be certain on the correct page numbers.

(III) PART 1 – Project objectives and overall research approach

Part one of your Research Report should contain the answers to the following questions:

  • Why did you choose this specific topic?
  • Why did you choose this specific organization?
  • What project objectives and research questions have you set?
  • What is the general approach to your research?

These questions need to be answered in about 1,000 words.

(IV) PART 2 – Information gathering and accounting/business techniques

Part two of the Research Report should contain the answers to the following questions:

  • From what sources did you gather your necessary information?
  • What are the information collection methods that you used?
  • Have you encountered any limitations during the information gathering process?
  • Have any ethical matters become apparent during this process?
  • How did you resolve the ethical matters?
  • What accounting models, business models, techniques, theories, and concepts did you use?
  • Do these models, techniques and theories have any limitations?

These questions need to be answered in about 2,000 words.

(V) PART 3 – Results, analysis, conclusions, and recommendations

Part three is the largest and most important part of your Research report. This is the core of your report and it explains your findings on your chosen topic and organization. This part has to contain these notions:

  • Explanation of the results of the research and the limits of such results and findings;
  • Suitable presentation of the results with graphs, charts, tables, etc.
  • Evaluative analysis of your results;
  • Relevant conclusions on the results of the research;
  • Recommendations or suggestions for any individual selected from your chosen organization; and
  • Description of your opinion on how good the established objectives were met, and research questions answered.

These notions need to be addressed in about 4,500 words.

Key Factors in preparation of Appendix

The Appendix is the last part of the Research Report. This part needs to contain the citations and excerpts of the used financial statements, reports on your working, calculations, and list of used formulas, and extracts from any primary research methods used.

Key factors in preparation of the Skills and Learning Statement (SLS)

The second component of the Research and Analysis Project is the Skills and Learning Statement. Its purpose is to evaluate your self – reflection skills and communication skills. The skill of self – reflection is a very important professional skill that requires of yourself to evaluate, judge and review your experiences and gained knowledge.

The level of your self – reflecting skills will be estimated by analyzing your answers on the prescribed SLS questions. The level of your communications skills will be estimated on the presentation you give to your Project Mentor. A copy of the PowerPoint presentation needs to be provided to OBU.

SLS Questions:

Your SLS needs to be based on answering the following four questions:

  1. Reflect on what you have learnt from the meetings with your project mentor, including the presentation that you gave to your project mentor?
  2. To what extent do you think you have achieved the RAP research objectives you set?
  3. How have you demonstrated your interpersonal and communication skills during the project work?
  4. Reflect on how undertaking the RAP helped you in your accountancy studies and/or current employment?

Answering the SLS Questions:

The first and fourth questions ask that you “reflect; as self-reflection is an important trait. It means that you yourself evaluate and review your own experiences and learning, where the emphasis is put on evaluation. This actually means that you mustn’t simply explain what you did during the preparation of the RAP, as the SLS needs to evaluate the overall experience of preparing of the RAP. You will have to try and find meaning in your experiences and judge how well you have achieved your prescribed project objectives, and draw a suitable conclusion about the whole experience of preparing the RAP.

The answers to these questions do not have to follow any established model. You should provide an honest evaluation of yourself, and the SLS should reflect on the actual events. You should not hide any of these from OBU; you can reflect on the unpleasant experiences that have occurred and what conclusions you have drawn from these experiences.

The required word count for the SLS is 2,000 words, but it does not mean that you have to divide the words equally among all questions. You can write more about one or two questions, and write less on the remaining ones. While keeping in mind that the total word count for the SLS should not exceed the 2,000 words limit, you can answer your questions within the range of 350 to 650 words.

You should always keep appropriate notes during the meetings with your Project Mentor, as two of the SLS questions are in direct correlation with the meetings with your Project Mentor. You need to write down important aspects, and after the meeting, it is recommended that you record your reflections of the meeting, so you will have a reliable source when you are going to be writing the answers to the SLS questions.

Guidance on citing and referencing

The last part of the RAP is where you list all the sources you have used during the preparation of the RAP, like links to all the websites used, the names of the books and their authors, list the newspapers or journals and titles of the used articles and the names of their authors.

The citing and using references is an important part in any academic work, as it acknowledges the ideas from other authors, helps avoid plagiarism and shows the depth and broadness of your research.

The citing is listing all the work from other authors that you have used in your own work; the names of the authors are gathered and listed in a suitable manner at the end of your report – the list is known as a reference list. The names can be listed alphabetically, according to the author’s name, or numerically, per the order of mentioning in your work.

There are many citing and referencing systems. OBU advises you to use Harvard Referencing System. This referencing system consists of two sections: (i) In text citing, and (ii) Reference list.

  1. Section one – Citing in the text
  2. Citing

When preparing a piece of written work, you will inevitably come across other peoples’ ideas, theories or data, and you will want to mention or refer to these in your own work. In referring to these authors, you will also need to create a list of who they are and where their published work is to be found.

This is placed at the end of your written work so that your readers can identify what is your work and what is that of other people, and so that they can get hold of those pieces of published work to read, should they wish to do so.

Making reference to other authors in your own written work is called citing. The names of the authors who are cited in your text are gathered together, and supplied as an alphabetical list at the end of your written work.  This is a reference list.

There is no one-best-way to lay out the reference list, and much of it is a matter of tradition or preference. Broadly speaking, the process of citing authors (and the associated reference list) can be done in one of two main styles – the Numeric, where the list of authors is numbered in the order of mention in the text, or the Alphabetical, where the authors’ names are listed in alphabetical order.

One of the ways, in which alphabetical referencing is done, has been given the name of  the

Name and Date System or the Harvard Referencing System.   There are a number of ways in which the Harvard Referencing System can be presented, and all of these are therefore ‘correct’. The Business Faculty has chosen one of these as the method that we recommend you to use. The reason for this is that if you do take this advice:

  • The problem of choosing an appropriate referencing system has been solved for you,
  • Your referencing layout will be consistent and always ‘correct’, and
  • It will conform to the way referencing is done by most business and management researchers and journals.

(Another convention that we urge you to comply with is that the University has chosen Arial as the font that it wishes all documents to be written in – as this one is.)

  1. The difference between the reference list and the bibliography

Within your piece of written work, you will have cited a number of books, journals, newspaper articles (or whatever), using the author’s name and the date of publication.  At the end of the piece, you provide a list of all those authors, giving full details of what their work is called, and where it was published. This list is headed References, and provides all the information about the published works you have mentioned in your text, ALPHABETICALLY by the names of the authors (or originators). This list can be subdivided by year and letter if necessary. (More about this later)

Also, during the course of your preparatory reading, you may use material that has been helpful for reading around the subject, but which you do not make specific reference to in your own work. It is important to acknowledge this material. Under the heading Bibliography, list all these items, again alphabetically by author, regardless of whether it  is a book or journal, and include this list separately after the reference list.

The Bibliography indicates to your reader or examiner that you have read more widely that was strictly necessary to produce the piece of written work, and that you therefore have a better grasp of the area or the topic than if you had only used the works cited in your text and your reference list. Everything you cite (i.e. mention) in your piece of written work will be listed once alphabetically by author and subdivided by year and letter, if necessary, in your References.

The Bibliography would look the same as the reference list does. See Section 2: Formats for conventions that apply to all the different types of media – books, journals, newspapers, conferences etc.

Some people mix the list of references from within the text (References) and the references to wider reading (Bibliography) together in one list, which they then call the Bibliography. This is not recommended, because it creates difficulties for your examiner, who has to sort out which is which, in order to be clear about the accuracy of your referencing.

(Please note that when you are writing a (business) report, then all that is required is a list of references. When it comes to dissertations or theses, however, then both a reference list and a bibliography are required

Note: In the examples given below, pay attention to the punctuation, and in your own work, copy it exactly as it is set out – put the full stop in where it is placed in the example, and leave it out, if it isn’t in the example.


  • Citing in your text

Why is it important to cite references?

  • It is accepted practice in the academic world to acknowledge the words, ideas or work of others and not simply to use them as if they were your Failure to do this could be regarded as plagiarism – see http://www.brookes.ac.uk/library/skill/plagiarism.html
  • to enable other people to identify and trace your sources quickly and easily
  • to support facts and claims you have made in your text There are 2 parts to a referencing system:
  • an in-text citation
  • an entry in the reference list/bibliography at the end of the assignment/work


In-text citations Reference list/bibliography
The in-text citation is placed at the exact point in your document where you refer to someone else’s work, whether it is a book, journal, online document, website or any other source.


At the end of your assignment/work you need to provide a complete list of all sources used.

Please note that some Schools may expect 2 lists – (1) a reference list of all sources cited in your text and (2) a general bibliography of sources used but not specifically cited as in-text citation.

The entries in the list(s) are arranged in one alphabetical sequence by author’s name, title if there is no author, URL if no author or title – whatever has been used in the in- text citation, so that your reader can go easily from an in-text citation to the correct point in your list.

All entries/references, including those for online resources, must contain author, year of publication and title (if known) in that order. Further additional details are also required, varying according to the type of source, as follows:

Books and Chapter in book
It consists of author (or editor/compiler/translator) and publication year, in brackets:

e.g. Agriculture still employs half a million people in rural Britain (Shucksmith, 2000). An author can be an organisation or Government Department (common with websites):

e.g.  (English Heritage, 2010)

If there are 2 or 3 authors, all names should be given:

e.g. (Lines, Smith and Walker, 2007)

If there are more than 3 authors, cite the first author, followed by ‘et al’ (in italics)

e.g. (Morgan et al., 1998)

For several documents by the same author published in the same year, use (a, b, c):

e.g. (Watson, 2009a)

If the author’s name occurs naturally in the sentence, only the year of publication is given:

e.g. This concept is discussed by Jones (1998) … If there is no author, use a brief title instead:

e.g. (Burden of anonymity, 1948)


e.g. (Ridley, A., Peckham, M. and Clark, P. (eds.), 2003)

e.g. (Smith, H, 1990)


Page numbers should be included when there is a need to be more specific, for example when making a direct quotation. Use the abbreviation p. (for a single page) or pp. (more than one page):


e.g. As Kelvin stated (1968, p.100) ‘the value of…’


e.g. Annual Report of ABC, 2017, pp. 89-93


1)      Author/Editor: Surname first, followed by first name(s) or initials (be consistent). Include all names if there are 2 or 3 authors; if more than 3, use the first name and then et al. For editors, compilers or translators use ed/eds, comp/comps or trans after the name(s). Remember that an author can be an organisation or Government Department.

2)      Year of publication: If date not known, use n.d.

3)      Title: Include title as given on the title page of a book; include any sub-title, separating it from the title by a colon. Capitalise the first letter of the first word and any proper nouns. Use italics, bold or underline (the most common practice is to use italics) (be consistent)

4)      Edition: Only include if not the first edition.

5)      Place of publication and publisher: Use a colon to separate these elements. If not given use: s.l. (no place) and s.n. (no publisher).

6)      Series: Include if relevant.

e.g. Gombrich, E. H. (1977). Art and illusion. 5th ed. London: Phaidon.

e.g. Ridley, A., Peckham, M. and Clark, P. (eds.) (2003). Cell motility: from molecules to organisms. Chichester: Wiley.

Examples of organisation/Government Department as author:

e.g. Department of Health (2001). National service framework for diabetes. London: Department of Health. Royal Society (2001). The future of sites of special scientific interest London: Royal Society

Example of book with no author:

e.g. Whitaker’s almanac (2010). London: J Whitaker and Sons.

Chapter in book

1)      Author of chapter

2)      Year of publication

3)      Title of chapter (not italics)

4)      In: and then author, title of complete book (in italics), place of publication, publisher, page numbers of chapter.

e.g. Smith, H. (1990). Innovation at large. In: James, S., (ed.) Science and innovation. Manchester: Novon, pp. 46-50.

E-books, Printed Journal article, Electronic/online journal article and Annual reports

For websites, if there is no author or title, use the URL:

e.g. (http://www.xxxxxxx.org, 2010)


e.g. (www.dawsonera.com, 2011) or e.g. (Holliday, A., Hyde, M. and Kullman, J., 2004)



If the date cannot be identified, use the abbreviation n.d.:


e.g. e.g. (http://www.xxxxxxx.org, n.d.)


for Annual reports

e.g.  Source: Annual report of ABC for FY 2016 (pg. xx, xx) and FY 2015 (pg. xx, xx)


page number means from where you actually get data (i.e. Statement of comprehensive income and Statement of Financial Position)


1)      Author/editor

2)      Year of publication (use the date for the e-book version rather than any print version)

3)      Title

4)      Edition

5)      Place of publication and publisher (if available)

6)      [Online] in square brackets

7)      Available at: URL (this should be the URL of the e-book collection if it is from a collection).

8)      (Accessed: date you read it) (in brackets)

e.g. Holliday, A., Hyde, M. and Kullman, J. (2004). Intercultural communication: an advanced resource book. London: Routledge. [Online]. Available at: http://www.dawsonera.com/ (Accessed: 15 August 2011)

Printed Journal article

1)      Author

2)      Year of publication

3)      Title of article (not italics)

4)      Title of journal (in italics)

5)      Volume number, issue number and/or date

6)      Page numbers

e.g. Williams, J. (2000). Tools for achieving sustainable housing strategies in rural Gloucestershire. Planning Practice & Research 15 (3), pp.155-174.


Electronic/online journal article

Same as for printed journal article AND ALSO

7)      Name of online journal collection (if applicable)

8)      [Online] in square brackets

9)      Available at: URL (if 7 applies, this should be the URL of the online  journal collection).

10)   (Accessed: date you read it) (in brackets)

e.g. Jones, P. and Evans, J. (2006). Urban regeneration, governance and the state: exploring notions of distance and proximity. Urban Studies 43(9), pp.1491-1509. Academic Search Complete [Online]. Available at: http://web.ebscohost.com (Accessed 17 August 2010)

Annual reports

e.g. ABC Plc (2016) Annual Report for FY 2016, pp.21-23. [Online]. Available at: http://www.abc.com/investor_relations.html  (Accessed 15 March 2017)

Web page: Labour Party (2010). Policy guide. Available at: http://www.labour.org.uk/policies/home  (Accessed: 13 August 2010)

Report from a database: Mintel (2010). Sports goods retailing – UK – May 2010. Mintel Leisure [Online]. Available at: http://reports.mintel.com (Accessed: 17 August 2010)

e.g. (Daily Telegraph, 1999) Newspaper article: Hunt, P. (1999). Time is running out. Daily Telegraph, 8 February, p. 10.

(NB: For internet edition there is no page number – instead give [Online], Available at: URL and Accessed: date; if citing newspaper article from a database e.g. Factiva, follow pattern above for online journal article)

e.g. (Saunders, L. ,2010) Email: Saunders, L. (2010). Email to Linda Hinton, 18 August.
e.g. (Pride and prejudice (DVD), 2000). Film on DVD: Pride and prejudice (2000). Directed by Simon Langton [DVD]. Based on the novel by Jane Austen. London: BBC Worldwide Ltd.
e.g. (Groschl, S. , 2001). Thesis: Groschl, S. (2001). An exploration of cultural differences between French and British managers within an international hotel company. PhD thesis. Oxford Brookes University.
e.g. (Sattler, M.A. , 2007) Conference paper: Sattler, M.A. (2007). Education for a more sustainable architecture. In: Sun, wind and architecture: proceedings of the 24th International Conference on Passive and Low Energy Architecture. National University of Singapore,  22-24 November. Singapore: Department of Architecture, National University of Singapore, pp. 844-851.

For further examples see: Pears, R. and Shields, G. (2010). Cite them right: the essential referencing guide. 8th ed. Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan. Shelfmark: 808.02 PEA

e.g. (Smith, A.B. , 2002) Personal communication

Please avoid using lecture notes as a source – try and go back to the original sources.

Meetings and interviews should be referenced if they are important. Do not use other people’s email addresses if this is personal (i.e. private) information. An example of a reference for a conversation would be:

Smith, A.B. (2002) Personal communication, Happy Restaurant, Oxford, 15 May.

EndNote: This service enables you to build up a database of your references and then automatically format both in-text citations and the references in the Brookes Harvard style (like this guide).  For full details see http://www.brookes.ac.uk/library/endnote.html

Lindsay Sellar/Oxford Brookes University Library            August 2011

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