References in reports and journal articles serve two main purposes, namely documentation and acknowledgment. In either case, references form a critical part of the manuscript and must therefore undergo close scrutiny by both the author(s) and editor(s). Studies show that 50% to 75% of all quoted literature references contain at least one erroneous item. These errors come about by copying lists of references from previous papers or reports that are likely to contain irregularities. In this way, mistakes are carried over, and verification of the original information becomes difficult. Common deficiencies range from simple typing errors to gross misquoting of titles or author names.
When quoting published material, do not copy down references from citations or databases, however credible, since these usually pay insufficient attention to detail and often contain erroneous author initials, page numbers, or even years of publication. Thus, the only reliable source is the original paper as published in its original journal.
Do bear in mind that any mistake in quoting references will make it difficult to trace the original article, and precious time to completing the manuscript or report will be lost. It is for this reason that authors must pay utmost attention to the exact wording and format of quoted literature references.
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