General rules for citing sources in scientific writing

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General Guidelines

When to cite:
All ideas and facts that are obtained from other sources must be properly cited, unless they qualify as common knowledge. (If in doubt about whether something is common knowledge, provide a citation).

How to cite:
If the author’s name is used as part of the sentence, the citation should be in the form "Holsinger (1995) argues that X" If the author’s name is not used in the sentence, then the citation should be in the form "(Holsinger 1995; Jockusch and Simon 1997; Caira et al. 1998)". If there are one or two authors, list their names in the citation. If there are more than two authors, list the first author followed by et al. rather than listing all of the authors in citations. In the literature cited section, all authors must be listed. Refer to the example by Prof. Schwenk below for general guidelines.

Where to cite:
The citation should be placed at the end of the sentence (before the punctuation) if it applies to the entire sentence or immediately following the information to which it applies. If several consecutive sentences contain information from the same source, the source may be cited at the end of the last sentence.

Synthesize citations:
In your writing aim for synthesis. A single sentence can and should express an idea promoted by several authors; cite all relevant authors at the end of such sentences. Avoid whole paragraphs devoted to the ideas of a single author.

Formatting Guidelines

We will be following the citation format used by the journal Evolution (or Ecology, either is acceptable) for this course. Here is some information on how to format citations modified from their website.

  • A one-to-one correspondence must exist between works cited in the text and those in the Literature Cited section.
  • Literature is cited in the text by the last name of the author or authors and the date of publication. For works with three or more authors, the last name of the senior author is followed by "et al." in the text. The complete list of authors is included in the Literature Cited section.
  • Use semicolons to separate multiple citations by different authors; use commas to separate multiple citations by the same author (e.g., Jones 1991, 1992; Brown 1993). Note that in-text references are placed in chronological order.
  • Do not use commas to separate the author names and dates in in-text citations.
  • Specific pages, tables, or figures within a reference should follow a comma after the reference year. A date should be provided for all personal communications: (D. Johnson, pers. comm. 1989).
  • References in the Literature Cited section should be arranged alphabetically.
  • In the Literature Cited section, we will follow the format used by the journal Evolution. The format for journal articles is explained in detail here. Pdficon small.gif See below for more examples.

Example of Proper Citation Formats

This example shows proper citation format in both the text and literature cited sections.

Faculty appearance and faculty quality: Is there a connection?

Kurt Schwenk
Dept. of Ecology & Evolutionary Biology
U. CT, Storrs, CT 06269

It has been suggested that balding, blond, bearded professors are superior in overall quality (Schwenk 1987), although a few investigators disagree (e.g. Hirsute 1990; Brunette 1991). Indeed, the computer simulation models of Schwenk and Budlite (1990) predict that the addition of a slight beer-belly to the Schwenk (1987) physical parameters would so enhance the popularity of a UConn professor that it is unlikely any space on campus could accommodate his or her class enrollments (with the possible exception of Gample Pavilion). However, in a pointed rebuttal to Schwenk and Budlite (1990), Slender et al. (1991) noted that Professor Schwenk, himself, fits the Schwenk (1987) and Schwenk and Budlite (1990) profile, and his enrollments hardly fulfill the prediction. Furthermore, in her now classic study, La Mujer (1978) showed that female instructors are consistently preferred three to one over males by students at ten top-ranking U.S. institutions. Given that female instructors generally have all their hair, often are not blond, are rarely bearded (Darwin 1871) and only infrequently have beer bellies, these results would seem to falsify the Schwenk (1987) and Schwenk and Budlite (1990) hypotheses. Slender et al. (1991) noted that Schwenk's papers fail to cite the La Mujer study, and they further implied that the quality of Schwenk's scholarship is in question (indeed, they seemed to suggest that Schwenk had faked his data). In a vicious rejoinder to Slender et al. (1991), Schwenk (1992) claimed that Slender, Gracile and Lithe were involved in a massive conspiracy to ruin his professional reputation and that the conspiracy extended to La Mujer, Brunette, Hirsute, and a host of other investigators. He further claimed to have unpublished evidence linking these scientists to a heretofore unrevealed CIA plot to bring Elvis and Marilyn back to life in order to discredit Schwenk and his ideas. As proof, Schwenk (1992) offered the testimony of voices he hears constantly in his head (K. Schwenk, pers. comm.).

Literature Cited

Brunette, C. W. 1991. Hair color and classroom performance: a spurious correlation? Annals Amer. Inst. Beauticianary Sci. 35:121-154. doi:10.1016/j.ympev.2011.03.012 [This is the proper format for a journal article. See this pdf Pdficon small.gif for a detailed breakdown of the format.]

Darwin, C. 1871. The Descent of Man, and Selection in Relation to Sex. Modern Library, New York, NY. [This is the proper format for a book.]

Hirsute, G. E. 1990. Hair to stay: beards in the classroom and student preference. J. Taxpayer Waste 254:1086-1089. doi: 10.1002/jez.725

La Mujer, W. 1978. Gender issues in faculty quality. Pp. 150-172 in F. M. Nist and C. Pig, eds. Gonads: Inside or Out? Fullcourt Press, New York, NY. [This is the proper format for a paper within an edited book.]

Schwenk, K. 1987. Faculty quality in relation to certain physical parameters. Zeitschrift f*r Schleimhauten und Zungenspitzen 52:231-242. doi: 10.1073/pnas.131203598

Schwenk, K. 1992. Voices in my head: the CIA, Elvis, Marilyn and the plot against me. Xenophobe 11:1-346. doi: 10.1093/icb/icp034

Schwenk, K., and I. P. Budlite. 1990. Excessive beer consumption improves faculty instruction. Bull. Amer. Beer Inst. 21:24-32. doi: 10.1126/science.263.5153.1573

Slender, P., M. W. Gracile, and D. Lithe. 1991. Failure of physical parameter models to predict student preference. Pseudoscientifica 342:233-236. doi: 10.1016/S0169-5347(00)88953-3

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