University of Botswana History Department

Guidelines for HIS471/HIS472 students

Contents  || To end of page  ||  History Home Page  ||  Site index

In the HIS471-HIS472 programme, History and Archaeology students write a research essay as the result of a year's supervised primary research. Details of these essays, which are deposited in the University Library, are available on this site: H403 essays and MA theses.

The following guidelines were originally adopted by the History Department in the 1990s. At that time the research essay project course was implemented as a year-long course "H403". Since semesterization the project is technically implemented as two one-semester courses, HIS471 and HIS472, but is really still a single project. The following guidelines are the same as the old H403 guidelines except where the original provisions have been superseded by semesterization. (For comparison, see the original H403 guidelines.)


Back to contents

General notes

Length: Research essays must not be longer than 10,000 words. This is a maximum; essays may be shorter. The limit applies to the main text; that is, footnotes, appendices, bibliography etc. are not counted. Permission to exceed 10,000 words may be granted by the department in exceptional cases.

Ten-year rule: HIS471-2 essays in history should not normally deal with events less than ten years in the past. In setting a ten-year limit, it is meant that the main topic should be at least ten years ago; it is permissible to add more minor comments on more recent events. The ten-year rule is a general limit rather than an absolute ban, and may be set aside in special cases (such as projects involving cultural resource management).

Marking: HIS471-2 essays are marked three times: at first presentation, at second presentation, and when the final version is submitted.

Basis of marking: The following will be considered as the main points in the marking of essays and presentations:

Format of essays: Essays should normally be arranged in the following standard format. Optional items are in brackets.

  1. Title page
  2. Abstract
  3. (Dedication)
  4. Table of contents
  5. (Tables of maps, diagrams, illustrations etc)
  6. (Table of abbreviations)
  7. Introduction and chapters
  8. (Appendices)
  9. Bibliography
  10. Interview notes [only in final version]

If in doubt, please consult your supervisor.

Appendices: Appendices (singular "appendix") are items "appended" or added to the main text. For example, if you have used some very important document which is not too long, it may be worth including the text of that document as an appendix for the benefit of readers. Another example would be a biographical index: if you mention a large number of people by name, it may be helpful to the reader to include a list of them with brief data.

Abstract: Your essay must include an abstract, for purposes of reference. An abstract should contain a brief summary of the topic and the main conclusions; that is, it should state not only what questions you have asked but what your answers are. It must be on one page, for ease of reproduction. Please submit an extra (loose) copy of your abstract with the final version, which will be filed separately.

Field notes: In the case of essays based wholly or partly on oral sources, notes of oral interviews (written up) should be included with the deposited copy, for the use of future researchers. This fieldwork will be assessed. You should discuss the format of this with your supervisor.

Form of references: You should follow the departmental guidelines on the format of references. You are advised to follow these guidelines precisely, not approximately, since historians often regard carelessness in this matter as evidence of general sloppiness and grounds for deducting marks. If there are special reasons to depart from the guidelines, you should consult your supervisor. Note that History and Archaeology have different specifications.

Illustrations: Take care with illustrations, especially maps, since good illustrations can enhance your work. For maps, better results are often obtained by tracing the relevant features from a printed map before photocopying. Do not leave such matters to the last minute, but consult your supervisor in good time.

Writers' manuals: There are a number of books in the Library which you may find useful. We particularly recommend you to consult two books by Kate Turabian, A Manual for Writers of Term Papers, Theses, and Dissertations, and Students' Guide for Writing College Papers. The latter contains useful advice on how to take notes and organize material. The University Library holds several copies of each of these.

Contact with your supervisor: Regular consultation with your supervisor is compulsory. Persistent failure to meet your supervisor may be treated as withdrawal from the course. Drafts must be submitted to the supervisor before presentation to the department. Keep in touch with your supervisor, he/she is there to help.

Back to contents

Notes on the format of references

One general principle must be clearly understood: references and bibliography are not simply a complicated ritual to satisfy academic tradition. They are intended to be useful to the reader, and especially to the future researcher. The conventions of footnoting are a way of ensuring that all the necessary information has been provided in a clear and consistent form, and they should not be departed from without good reason. However, they must be used intelligently, with the aim of assisting the reader.

In historical essays, references should normally be given in the traditional footnote format, as this is usually the most appropriate format for historical writing, where the reader will want to check at every point the basis of each statement. It is flexible and allows the reader to note the exact nature of each source. The author/date system is convenient where all references are to published secondary sources, which can be assumed to be all of similar value. This situation, though normal in the natural sciences and common in archaeology, is not normal in mainstream history. Although the author/date system is used to some extent in social and economic history, it is much less flexible than the traditional footnote, which can cope with any type of data, including the types of data on which most H403 essays are based. The History Department has therefore adopted the traditional footnote as the standard for essays in History. Archaeology students should follow the specifications of the Archaeology Unit.

The ideal place for footnotes is at the foot of the page. In the first (manuscript) version of the dissertation, notes may be placed at the end, for ease of writing, but in the word-processed versions footnotes should appear at the foot of the page. In word-processed essays, you should use the special footnote function. Take time to study this before you start so as to be sure that you can use it properly. The footnote function will offer you some options about how your footnotes should appear. Select the option by which the footnotes will appear at the bottom of the page. Older word-processing applications often could not handle footnotes properly, leading to the widespread use of end-notes, but there is now no excuse for this.

Footnotes should follow a consistent style, though it is more important that all the essential details are clearly presented than that any particular format is followed. A set format is provided so that writers can be confident they have included all the necessary details, and if there are special reasons for deviating from the style these can be discussed with your supervisor.

Abbreviations for titles of journals or other sources should be used cautiously. The essential principle is that whenever an abbreviation is used, the reader should be able to find the meaning without difficulty. This means that there must be a clear and complete table of abbreviations. Abbreviations are only appropriate where something is to be repeated frequently, and only the most used titles should normally be abbreviated.

In the case of published items, the principle is that the first reference in each chapter to a given item should be in full, but that subsequent references may be abbreviated. However, these abbreviated forms should be such as to allow the reader to find the full form in the Bibliography without difficulty.

Format of references:


First reference in each chapter: Author, title (underlined, or italics if available), place of publication, publisher, date, page reference.

Example: J.K.Nyerere, Freedom and Unity: A Selection from Writings and Speeches, 1952-65 (Nairobi: Oxford University Press, 1967) p. 196.

Subsequent references: Author (surname only unless ambiguous), abbreviated title (underlined, or italics if available), page reference.

Example: Nyerere, Freedom and Unity, p. 50.

Points to note:

(i) In the author's name, the initials of first names come before the surname.

(ii) The abbreviation for "page" is "p." (not "pg.") The abbreviation for "pages" is "pp." (In printed books you will sometimes see the "p." or "pp." omitted altogether, but it is included in our format.)

(iii) The "place of publication" is the name of the city where the book was published. In most cases the name of the city alone is sufficient, e.g. London, Cambridge, New York, Cape Town, Gaborone etc. Sometimes it is desirable to include additional information such as the name of the country. This may be appropriate

(a) when the name alone would mislead or be ambiguous, e.g. "Cambridge, Massachusetts"; "Hamilton, New Zealand"

(b) when the city may be unfamiliar to readers, e.g. "Metuchen, New Jersey".

(iv) The "date of publication" is the date at which the copy of the book you are using was produced. You may sometimes wish to give the date of first publication as well. For example, consider this reference: "John Mackenzie, Ten Years North of the Orange River (2nd ed., London: Frank Cass, 1971) (first published 1871), p. 91." If you had given the date as 1871 it would mean you were quoting that edition, but the page numbering might be different in that edition, and someone looking up p. 91 in that edition would not find your quotation. So you give the date as 1971, the date of the edition you are using. However, it is worth noting that the book was actually written a hundred years earlier.

(v) Books often have a title in two or more parts, a title and a subtitle. For example, a book by Thomas Tlou has the title A History of Ngamiland 1750 to 1906. Underneath is written the subtitle The Formation of an African State. You should write out the full title, but separate the parts by colons, i.e.: A History of Ngamiland 1750 to 1906: The Formation of an African State.

(vi) Underlining is equivalent to italics. Underlining is used in handwritten work, or when a typewriter or word-processor does not have italics available.


First reference in each chapter: Author, title of article (in quotation marks), title of journal (underlined, or italics if available), volume/number and date of journal, page reference.

Example: A. Nsibambi, 'Some Reflections on the Uganda Independence Constitution of 1962', The Uganda Journal, vol. 39 (1980) p. 288.

Subsequent references: Author, abbreviated title of article, page reference.

Example: Nsibambi, 'Uganda Independence Constitution', p. 288.

Where an article is in a book, the title and bibliographic details of the book should be given, in the format for books:

Example: M. Odell, 'Local Government: Tradition and Modern Role of the Village Kgotla', in L. Picard (ed.), The Evolution of Modern Botswana (London: Rex Collins, 1985). Subsequent references: Odell, 'Local Government'.

Unpublished sources such as dissertations, seminar papers etc:

First reference in each chapter: Author, title (in quotation marks), description of the document, date, page reference.


Q.N.Parsons, 'Khama III, the Bamangwato and the British with special reference to 1895-1923' (unpublished Ph.D. thesis, University of Edinburgh, 1973) p. 200..

D. Wylie, ' "The Centre Cannot Hold": The Decline of the Ngwato Chieftainship 1925-1950' (unpublished Ph.D. thesis, Yale University, 1984) p. 254.

P. Monnatsie, 'The Growth and Spread of Religious Sects in Kgatleng: the case of the Zion Christian Church 1933-77' (unpublished B.A. dissertation, University of Botswana, 1980).

Bob Hitchcock, 'The Future of Remote Area Development in Botswana' (unpublished seminar paper, read at National Institute of Research, 2 July 1988).

Subsequent references: Author, abbreviated title (in quotation marks), page reference.

Examples: Parsons, 'Khama III', p. 201.

Wylie, 'The Centre Cannot Hold'.

Monnatsie, 'Religious Sects in Kgatleng', p. 10.

Hitchcock, 'Remote Area Development', p. 3.

Editors: Where a book consists of pieces by several authors, it will usually be referred to by the title and the editor's name. The format is the same as for other books, but '(ed.)' is put after the editor's name to indicate that this is an editor rather than an author. For more than one editor, use '(eds)'.


First reference: F.Morton and J. Ramsay (eds), The Birth of Botswana: A History of the Bechuanaland Protectorate from 1910 to 1966 (Gaborone: Longman, 1987)

Subsequent references: Morton and Ramsay (eds), The Birth of Botswana.


Published diaries, letters etc. are a special case. There are two possible formats.

(i) Use the name of the author of the diaries as author. This is the most appropriate if the diaries were prepared for publication by their writer.


If the diaries have been edited by someone else, the editor's name can be added after the author.

Example: Charles F. Rey (eds N. Parsons & M. Crowder), Monarch of All I Survey: Bechuanaland Diaries 1929-37 (Gaborone: Botswana Society, 1988).

(ii) The editor's name is used, rather than giving the writer of the diaries as the author. (This may be more appropriate where the published version is the result of selection by editors, and especially in cases such as collections of letters.) However, it is desirable that the name of the diarist does appear somewhere. Usually it is included in the title. As well as the page reference, it is usually helpful to give the date of the diary entry or letter being cited.


First reference: Neil Parsons and Michael Crowder (eds), Monarch of All I Survey: Bechuanaland Diaries 1929-37, by Sir Charles Rey, (Gaborone: Botswana Society, 1988), p.136 (Mon. 26 June 1933).

Evelyn Foley Braley (ed.), Letters of Herbert Hensley Henson. (London, 1950).

Subsequent references: Parsons and Crowder (eds), Monarch of All I Survey (Rey diaries), p. 111 (Sun 11 to Fri 16 Dec 1932).

Braley (ed.), Letters of Herbert Hensley Henson.


Works by more than one author: Where there are two or three authors, give all the authors' names.


First reference: R. Molefi, F. Morton and L. Ngcongco, 'The modernists: Seepapitso, Ntebogang and Isang', in F.Morton and J. Ramsay (eds), The Birth of Botswana: A History of the Bechuanaland Protectorate from 1910 to 1966 (Gaborone: Longman, 1987) pp. 11-29.

Subsequent references: Molefi, Morton and Ngcongco, 'The modernists'.


Where there are more than three authors, all the authors' names should appear in the first reference, but in subsequent references only the first name, followed by et al.



First reference: P. Curtin, S. Feierman, L. Thompson and J. Vansina, African History (London and New York: Longman, 1978), p. 10.

Subsequent references: Curtin et al., African History, p. 12.

All authors' names must be given in the Bibliography.

Special systems of reference:

You may sometimes use sources which have special systems of reference of their own. Important examples of these are official publications, and legal sources such as court reports. If you use such sources, you should learn how their systems of reference work. It is very important, especially when you are still learning a new system, to copy references with great care, exactly as they are given. Failure to do so can lead to problems. For example, there is a class of official British government publications called "Command Papers". These are numbered and referred to as, for example, Cmd. 2345 or Cd. 1234. Unwary students sometimes think that "Cmd" and "Cd" - which are both abbreviations for "Command" - mean the same thing. But in fact the different abbreviations indicate different series of Command Papers. Cd. 1200 and Cmd. 1200 are different documents. There are many such traps for the unwary; for example in citing law reports round brackets ( ) and square brackets [ ] are not interchangeable; in the numbering of British Acts of Parliament Arabic numerals and Roman numerals must not be confused; etc. The moral is that until you completely understand a special reference system, you should not alter anything. Never think "It's probably the same."

Official publications: Sometimes these can be cited in the same way as other books, but often they are numbered according to special systems. You should use the official form of reference. It will sometimes be helpful to give an explanation of this numbering (perhaps in a preface).

Example: 'Despatch to the Governor of the East Africa Protectorate relating to native labour, and papers connected therewith', British Parliamentary Papers, 1920, Cmd. 873, XXXIII, 81.

It is helpful to give such references as fully as possible, because they may be catalogued in libraries in different ways (e.g. under author, under title, or in official numeric sequence). If you have not given all the details, it may be hard for a reader to locate the work in question.

Law cases: Lawyers have a system of reference of their own, which should be followed if you wish to cite law cases, statutes etc. If you are citing such sources, you should get advice from someone familiar with this system. The legal system of citation, which looks rather cryptic to the uninitiated, has developed to meet the peculiar nature of legal sources, and makes it easy to find the right documents in such sources. Although it is possible to cite some legal sources as if they were ordinary books, this is not desirable.

Scriptural references:

The Jewish, Christian and Islamic scriptures have special reference systems which should be used if referring to them. References to the Christian Bible are given as follows:

Abbreviation for book, chapter (small Roman numerals), verse (Arabic numerals). (First/Second Book is indicated by large Roman numeral before the abbreviated title of the book.) Examples:

Matt. xix.
Matt. xix. 9.
Gen. vi 1-3.
I Cor. vii. 15

The above format is Cambridge University Press style. An alternative style, which is used by the Theology and Religious Studies Department of this university, is to write both chapter and verse in Arabic numerals, separated by a colon; thus:

Matt. 19.
Matt. 19: 9.
Gen. 6: 1-3.
I Cor. 7: 15

Note that it is not normal to cite the Bible as a book with title, publisher etc.: just give the reference as shown above. Do not include the Bible in the Bibliography.

For other technicalities of scriptural reference, such as the indication of particular translations, (AV, RSV, etc.) use the standard format. You may wish to give an explanation (either in the note or in your table of abbreviations) for readers less familiar with the system.

Back to contents

Archive references

Archive references must be as full and clear as possible. As well as enabling the researcher to locate the document in question for further examination, an archive reference allows the reader to assess the significance of the evidence being presented. This is, of course, one reason why it is important to place footnotes at the foot of the page, so that the serious reader can glance at each note.

Each reference should indicate (i) where the document is located (ii) the nature of the document, and (if appropriate) which part of the document is being referred to. The normal format of an archive footnote will be as follows:

Archive location, archive reference, description of document, date, reference within document (if any).


Botswana National Archives, S. 178/1; R.C. Williams to Rev. W.C. Willoughby, 26 Sept 1902.

In this example, the parts may be analysed as follows:

Archive location: Botswana National Archives

Archive reference: S. 178/1

Description of document: R.C. Williams to Rev. W.C. Willoughby

Date: 26 Sept 1902

Reference within document (if any): [not given]


Another example:

Cambridge, Churchill College Archive Centre, Swinton Papers, SWIN II.270/3/8, fols 8-10; Cunliffe-Lister to Byrne, 26 Mar. 1934, p. 2


Archive location Cambridge, Churchill College Archive Centre
Archive reference: Swinton Papers, SWIN II.270/3/8, fols 8-10
Description of document Cunliffe-Lister to Byrne
Date 26 Mar. 1934
Reference within document (if any) p. 2

Archive location: Give the name of the archive and its whereabouts: for example "Khama III Memorial Museum, Serowe". If you are consulting papers which are not in a library or archive (e.g. family papers in the possession of the family concerned) omit this item but explain in the Bibliography where the papers are held.

Archive reference: This should be the reference used by the archive, i.e. the reference you use in ordering the document. (Official documents may have original filing numbers which are different; do not confuse these with the archive reference.) The form of the archive reference will vary. As well as this basic archive reference (which identifies a folder or a box of documents, etc.) you may be able to specify where in this folder or box the document is to be found. This is possible if the papers have been numbered within the folder or box. The numbering may be item number (each document is numbered in sequence), folio number (each leaf of paper is numbered in sequence) or page number (each side of each leaf of paper is numbered in sequence as in an ordinary book; normally only used when papers have been bound in a volume). In the second of the two examples above, a folio-number reference (abbreviation "fol."/ "fols") is given.

Description of document: In the case of a letter, the format is 'Sender to Addressee.' If a document is a report with a title, the title (in quotation marks) should be given, with the author's name (if known).

Example: BNA S. 214/1/2; Tshekedi Khama, 'The Batawana-Damara trouble', 21 Sept 1940.

Reference within document: if a document is long, and you are referring to a particular part of it, you should give a reference (usually a page reference) within it. For example: Report by J.Smith, p. 5. If a document is numbered by paragraphs rather than pages, it will probably be better to give a paragraph reference. Example: Report by J.Smith, para. 57.

Documents of other sorts should be described as clearly as possible, indicating their nature and author.


Memorandum by J.Smith

Note (unsigned)

Draft of J.Smith to R.Jones, 1 Jan 1900 (apparently not sent).

Often an official letter will be headed "Despatch", etc., but this is not significant. Write "J. Smith to K. Jones, 31 Jan. 1901", not "Despatch from J. Smith to K. Jones, 31 Jan. 1901". "Despatch" is not significant because in the Bechuanaland Protectorate administration it merely indicated an ordinary written message from one official to another. However, if the message was of a special type you might indicate this. For example, you might note that a document is a telegram, suggesting that it was urgent:

"J. Smith to K. Jones (telegram), 31 Jan. 1901"

Additional information such as security classifications may be included if you think it may be relevant:

"J. Smith to K. Jones (Secret), 31 Jan. 1901"

Abbreviations: 'Botswana National Archives' may be abbreviated to 'BNA'. Other abbreviations, if used, must be set out in a prominent, clear and complete table of abbreviations, and the full form should be used the first time in each chapter. In general, abbreviations should be used cautiously in archive references as they can easily become confusing.

Incomplete information: where no date is given, write 'n.d.' (no date). If you are able to provide information which is not stated in the document, give it in square brackets. For example, if a letter is addressed to 'John' and it is clear that this is John Smith, you would write: 'A.N.Other to John [Smith]'. This indicates that a detail is your deduction rather than stated in the document.

The following are some examples of footnotes describing a variety of documents.

Botswana National Archives, HC 40/109; Kanye Despatch S. of S. to Sir Hercules Robinson, 15 Nov 1887.

B.N.A., S. 568/13/1-4; Kasane Establishment of Northern Game Reserve

National Archives of Lesotho, S 3/1/6/1; Sheep scab; Principal Veterinary Surgeon to Government Secretary, 20 Apr 1905.

B.N.A., MICRO 715; Kgalagadi District, Hitchcock R.C.: Northern Kgalagadi District Extra Rural Dwellers Reconnaissance and Consultation, Report 2, Aug 1977.

B.N.A., S. 214/1/2; Minutes of meeting to settle the Damara troubles, 10 Dec 1940.


References quoted from another source: where a reference is taken from an existing source, and you have not yourself checked the original, this should be made clear as in the following examples:

D. Mudoola, 'The Pathology of Institution Building - The Tanzanian Case', in F.G.Kiros (ed.) Challenging Rural Poverty (Trenton, New Jersey: African World Press, 1985) p. 119; quoted in Apolo Robin Nsibambi, 'One-party rule in Tanzania and Uganda: how democratic?', in J.Holm and P.Molutsi (eds), Democracy in Botswana: The Proceedings of a Symposium held in Gaborone, 1-5 August 1988 (Gaborone: Macmillan, 1989) p. 29.

Khama III to High Commissioner, 21 Aug 1922; quoted in Q.N.Parsons, 'Khama III, the Bamangwato and the British with special reference to 1895-1923' (unpublished Ph.D. thesis, University of Edinburgh, 1973) p. 397.

High Court Case No. 8 of 1931, cited in Wylie, 'The Centre Cannot Hold', p. 143.

References to oral sources:

The usual format is as follows:

Name of interviewee, age of interviewee, occupation or other description of interviewee, place and date of interview.


Interview with Mr J. Smith, 67, farmer, Serowe, 12 July 1999.

The description of the interviewee will vary. Often it is sufficient merely to give the informant's occupation, but any special facts should be noted, unless they have already been given in the text. For example, if the informant is talking about the activities of a club, the fact that he or she was secretary of that club would be relevant. If the informant is talking about a particular person, his or her relationship with that person is relevant. Thus:

Interview with Mr L. Sefane, 44, farmer, and secretary of the Aardvark-Breeders Club, Maun, 12 July 1999.

Interview with Mrs J. Smith, 83, retired, sister of the late Theophilus Buggins, Maun, 12 July 1999.

Although occupation is usually the main description, in some cases you might instead identify a person in some other way. For example, suppose an interviewee was a farmer by occupation, but was also a member of a Land Board. If you were interviewing the person about the Land Board's activities, it would be more appropriate to give this rather the occupation. If both were relevant, you could put both. Thus:

Interview with Mr L. Sefane, 55, member of Erewhon Land Board, Maun, 12 July 1999.

Interview with Mr L. Sefane, 55, farmer, and member of Erewhon Land Board, Maun, 12 July 1999.

Note that the important thing is what will be useful for the reader to know.

References to oral sources quoted from existing written sources should be given as 'quoted in...' as above.


Otsile Moseweu, speaking at a kgotla meeting held at Serowe, 7 Jan 1927, cited in Wylie, 'The Centre Cannot Hold', p. 254.

Interview with Difatlhwe Seame, Tlokeng ward, Mochudi, 16 June 1988; quoted in P.T.Mgadla and A.C.Campbell, 'Dikgotla, dikgosi and the protectorate administration', in J.Holm and P.Molutsi (eds), Democracy in Botswana: The Proceedings of a Symposium held in Gaborone, 1-5 August 1988 (Gaborone: Macmillan, 1989), p. 48.

In some cases, you may be citing an interview from a transcript or summary, which may be a published work or an unpublished paper. The written source should be cited in the usual way. Remember that it may be helpful to indicate where an unpublished paper can be found.

Example for a published source: Interview with J.Smith, aged 79, farmer, Erewhon, 25 Dec 1997; in R. Jones (ed.), Imaginary Published Collection of Interviews (Erewhon: Nonesse House, 1998) p. 32.

Example for unpublished transcripts: (Footnote:) Interview with J.Smith, aged 79, farmer, Erewhon, 25 Dec 1997; in A.N.Other, 'Notes of interviews with Erewhon farmers, 1996-7', (unpublished notes, 1997, University of Botswana Library), p. 21.

(Bibliography:) A.N. Other, 'Notes of interviews with Erewhon farmers, 1996-7', (unpublished notes, 1997, University of Botswana Library).

Note on the use of "[Place] Historical Texts": There seems to be a misapprehension that all oral interviews should be referred to as 'Francistown Historical Texts' (or whatever the location was). This term is not a synonym for "interview". You should simply refer to 'Interview with so-and-so, etc.'


(First reference:) Interview with Mr J. Smith, 76, farmer, Nullepart, 25 July 1998; in A. Student, "Nullepart interviews concerning the local economy 1919-45" (unpublished notes, 1999, University of Botswana Library) p. 44.

(Subsequent references:) Interview with Mr J. Smith, 76, farmer, Nullepart, 25 July 1998; in A. Student, "Nullepart interviews" p. 44.


The bibliography should list all the sources used, in a similar form to footnotes, but with a few differences.

(1) Within each category of source, items should be listed in alphabetical order of author, with initials after the surname.

Example: Nsibambi, A., 'Some Reflections on the Uganda Independence Constitution of 1962', The Uganda Journal, vol. 39 (1980).

(2) Where large numbers of documents are cited, it is not customary to cite all documents individually; instead the files used are indicated. You should discuss with your supervisor the most appropriate form for this, as it is most important that the information should be useful, and the exact format should be chosen accordingly.

(3) Where an item is unpublished, or rare, it is helpful to indicate where it is available, especially if it is not in the University of Botswana Library.

Example: Smith, J., 'An imaginary seminar paper' (unpublished seminar paper, read at University of Zimbabwe, 25 Dec 1995; copy held at the Botswana National Library).

The bibliography should be arranged by type of source: e.g., Oral interviews; Primary sources (archives); Primary sources (published); Secondary sources (published); Secondary sources (unpublished). This should be discussed with your supervisor.

Back to contents


Title page format for Research Essays

The following format for the title page of H403 essays was agreed by the History Department at the meeting of 26 April 1996 ("H403" has been changed to "HIS472")

Title of essay


John Smith


A Research Essay submitted to the History Department, University of Botswana


in fulfilment of the requirements for the course


"Research Project in History" [OR "in Archaeology"] (HIS472)


April 1998

Back to contents


Author-date style (Archaeology only)

[Note that author-date style is usual in Archaeology, but not in History. For History essays use the footnote system described above.]

In the author-date system, instead of a footnote marker, a reference is followed by a citation giving the author, the date, and the page number. The full details are given in the bibliography. In this system it is vital that the full and correct details appear in the bibliography, because without this the citation is meaningless.

The general comments made above about when to write references, etc., apply to both systems.

The bibliography:

Books: Author (surname first), date. Title (in italics). Place of publication: publisher. (Or series information.)

(Examples:) Beach, D.N. 1980. The Shona and Zimbabwe. London: Heinemann.

Dahl, G. and Hjort, A. 1976. Having Herds: Pastoral Herd Growth and Household Economy. Stockholm Studies in Social Anthropology 2, University of Stockholm.

Articles in journals: Author (surname first), date. Title of article (non-italic, without quotation marks). Title of journal (italics), volume number: pages.

(Examples:) Sutton, J.E.G. 1993. The antecedents of the Interlacustrine kingdoms. Journal of African History, 34: 33-64.

Reid, D.A.M. and McLean, M.R. 1995. Symbolism and the social contexts of iron production in Karagwe. World Archaeology, 27(1): 144-61.

Note that in the latter example, the volume number appears as "27(1)", meaning "vol. 27, no. 1".

Chapters or articles in books:

The format is similar to that for articles in journals. Note the following example:

Posnansky, M. 1975. Connections between the Lacustrine peoples and the coast. In East Africa and the Orient (eds H.N. Chittick and R.I. Rotberg). London: Africana Publishing, pp. 216-25.

Unpublished sources such as dissertations, seminar papers etc:

Author (surname first), date. Title (non-italics, no quotation marks). Desciption of the document.

(Examples:) Schick, K.A. 1984. Processes of Paleolithic site formation: an experimental study. Unpublished Ph.D. dissertation, University of California, Berkeley.

Hitchcock, Bob. 1988. The future of Remote Area Development in Botswana. Unpublished seminar paper, read at National Institute of Research, Gaborone, 2 July 1988.

Items by the same author: Instead of repeating the name of the author each time, it may be replaced, after the first item, by a long dash --- (length of three m-dashes together).


Schapera, I. 1938. A Handbook of Tswana Law and Custom. London: Oxford University Press.

---1965. Praise Poems of Tswana Chiefs. Oxford: Clarendon.

The reference: The reference, which appears instead of a footnote marker, is in the form (author date: page(s)). Example:

"This was according to Tswana custom. (Schapera 1938: 33)"

If the author's name has just been mentioned in the text, them it can be omitted, providing the meaning is quite clear. For example:

"Schapera records (1938: 33) that this was the custom."

Avoiding ambiguity: Generally, the surname and date will be sufficient to identify each item in the bibliography. However, note the two following special cases:

Two authors with same surname: An initial can be used with the name. Example: (J. Smith 1992: 11) and (K. Smith 1992: 22).

Two works by the same author in the same year: Add letters after the date to distinguish items. For example, in the bibliography:

Schapera, I. 1965a. Contract in Tswana case law. Journal of African Law, 9: 142-53.

--- 1965b. Praise Poems of Tswana Chiefs. Oxford: Clarendon.

Now references can be written: (Schapera 1965a: 144) and (Schapera 1965b: 12).

References outside the author-date system: If sources are used which the author-date system does not provide for (such as archival references) footnotes or end-notes may be used for these sources. If in any doubt, consult your supervisor.

Back to top

Copyright © 1999 University of Botswana History Department
Last updated 15 October 2003