Creating a Reference List - Sciences

Creating a Reference List - Sciences

If you consult a book, journal article, encyclopedia article or even a Web site when writing a research paper, put the item in the list of references for the paper. Even if you do not quote directly from the source, you might incorporate ideas or facts from that source and you must acknowledge your sources. It may even be a good idea to find sources for facts you already know, (e.g. paper burns at Fahrenheit 451), and cite those sources.

There are many styles that can be used to cite sources. The best thing to do is to find out which style is preferred by the instructor of your course. He or she may incorporate this information into the class syllabus or into the assignment sheet. If they don't, ask them what their preference is.  

Major Scientific Citation Styles


ACS - American Chemical Society

If you are writing a paper for a chemistry class, this might be the best style to use.
The ACS style guide (Science Library QD8.5 .A25 1997) page 106, 107 and 110-113
ACS Online Style Guide Chapter 14 "References"

AMA - American Medical Association
Standard citation style for medicine
American Medical Association manual of style (Ref R119 .A533 1989)
AMA style guide from Long Island University
Medical Citation Generator

APA - American Psychological Society
A common form of citation style for many of the social sciences as well as psychology
Publication manual of the American Psychological Association. (Ref BF76.7 .P83 2001)
APA style guide from the University of Southern Mississippi

CSE - Council of Science Editors
A common citation style for papers in biology and the biological sciences
Scientific style and format (Ref Z250.6.B5 S386 2006)
CSE Style Guide from UNC Libraries

A very common citation format in both the sciences and social sciences
The Chicago Manual of Style (Ref Z253 .U69 1993)

Other Styles

The above list is not comprehensive. There are many other specific styles. Many journals may even have their own style manuals.

Specific disciplines may have specific style preferences:
Electrical Engineering - IEEE style
Mechanical Engineering - ASME style

The important thing is to find out which style is preferred by your instructor, and use it consistently.

General Information about Styles

Usually each style has particular methods for:

1. Referring to the source in the text (by number, by author name, by author name and year, etc�)
2. Arranging the items in the list of citations (e.g. by order of appearance (#) or by author's last name)
3. Arranging the parts of the citation (e.g. Author first or year first)
4. Formatting and punctuating the parts of a citation (title underlined or italicized, capitalized or not)

The citation will include difference pieces of information based on what type of item it is (e.g. Newspaper, book, journal article). And the style guide will usually specify what to do if certain pieces of information are missing.

A person who has never seen the item before should be able to find the item based on what is given to them in the citation.

Last modified: 11/2/2012 2:59 PM by M. Potter

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