This study investigated the accuracy of references in multidisciplinary master theses. A total of 21,329 references cited in 438 masters’ theses, by eight departments in different colleges of Tamkang University in the academic years of 2007 and 2011, were obtained for citation analysis. The analyses focused on reference error rates, reference errors associated with different academic years, departments, reference languages, reference types, the items in references, each individual thesis and the types of reference errors, i.e.,numeric errors, textual errors, or both. The results of the study would be expected to take reference errors seriously by academic researchers and to enhance the effectiveness of citation analysis.
The results of the study reveal that:
(1)The overall reference error rate within the sample theses was 21.68%. The reference error rates of eight departments were between 17.46% and 25.11%. The reference error rates were 1.56% to 12.00% difference between the academic years of 2007 and 2011 in each department. The highest error rate of 23.82% was cited Chinese references. In addition, the highest error rete of reference type was 30.87% in theses, and the highest error rete of the items in references was page number in journals, author in books, publish year in theses and page number in conference papers.
(2)The reference error rates for each individual thesis ranged from 2.70% to 85.71%. The highest of ten reference error rates were 60.00% to 85.71%, and the lowest of ten reference error rates were 2.70% to 4.76% within the sample theses.
(3)The types of reference error rate was 51.82% in numeric error, 41.15% in textual error, and 7.03% in both of numeric and textual error .
The suggestions based on the findings of this study are as followed:
(1)The citation instruction in graduate programs is highly needed to promote better citation behavior in all departments.
(2)The library provides citation instruction courses and cooperates with departments.
(3)The librarians provide the service of verifying the accuracy of references.
(4)Graduate students take the responsibility of verifying the references.