Consulting the ideas of others is at the heart of learning and scholarship. Citing them is a critical part of academic honesty. Regardless of the format and type of work, be it cartoons, artwork, prose, poetry, photography, statistical data, or Web site, give attribution to the creator/author and cite the source.
So... what is a citation style? When you reference an article, book, report, website, etc. in your paper, you need to do it clearly and completely enough that your reader (probably the professor or TA of your class) can find it in case they need to check your work or clarify a point. A citation style is just a set of rules about what information to include and how to format it for consistency.
How citation styles are formatted is actually quite arbitrary. There's not really one approach that's better than another, provided it satisfies the main criteria of providing enough information that your reader can find the document they are looking for. Different citation styles are used depending on the academic discipline involved. Also keep in mind that instructor requirements can differ; they might have their own favorite and expect you to use it. Carefully follow your instructor's directions and remember to be consistent.
It's picky, yes, but following the rules of a given citation style makes your references more consistent and readable.
The Library has put together a list of some resources for learning more about citation styles used in writing assignments on campus:
- ACS - American Chemical Society – used extensively in chemistry.
- AMA - American Medical Association – used in medicine.
- APA - American Psychological Association – used in psychology, education, nursing, occupational therapy, and the social sciences.
- ASA - American Sociological Association – used in sociology.
- Biology Style Guides - used in the life sciences.
- Chicago Manual of Style – used in history, business and some of the fine arts.
- CSE - Council of Science Editors – used in the sciences, especially the biological and life sciences.
- A Handbook For Historians – used with the Chicago style in history at Le Moyne.
- Legal Citation Style - The Bluebook – used in business law.
- MLA - Modern Language Association – used in the humanities disciplines of languages, literatures, and the arts.
Comparing Citation Styles
Let's compare how the same journal article citation would be formatted in a bibliography following the rules of some of the more common citation styles. These examples contain the same or similar information. The differences are the order of the various parts; what to include or omit; whether or not to use title casing of the article title; do you put the last name before the first name of an author or not; how many authors to include before you use "et al"; when to use period, commas, and other punctuation; use of bolding and italics, etc. Inclusion of the DOI is generally optional, but it can be a useful finding aid for your reader.
ACS is one of the more variable citations styles. The minimum required information for a journal is author(s), abbreviated journal title, year of publication, volume number, and initial page of cited article, though complete pagination is possible. Some ACS publications include the article title while others do not. You generally omit issue numbers, but in cases where the pagination alone is insufficient (like this example), include it after the volume number.
The following are both valid expressions of the same ACS-formatted citation. The first example is the formatting that the Journal of the American Chemical Society requires while the second is probably closer to how your professor would expect it.
(1) Yang, M.; Ke, J.; Zhang, Q.; He, X. Water, Air, Soil Pollut. 2019, 230 (6), 1.
1. Yang, M.; Ke, J.; Zhang, Q.; He, X. Effects of Mixed Surfactant on Enhancing High Concentration Anthracene and Pyrene Removal from Contaminated Soil. Water, Air, Soil Pollut. 2019, 230 (6), 1-12.
1. Yang M, Ke J, Zhang Q, He X. Effects of mixed surfactant on enhancing high concentration anthracene and pyrene removal from contaminated soil. Water, Air and Soil Pollution. 2019;230(6):1-12. doi: http://dx.doi.org/10.1007/s11270-019-4172-3.
Yang, M., Ke, J., Zhang, Q., & He, X. (2019). Effects of mixed surfactant on enhancing high concentration anthracene and pyrene removal from contaminated soil. Water, Air and Soil Pollution, 230(6), 1-12. doi:http://dx.doi.org/10.1007/s11270-019-4172-3
Yang, Min, Junfeng Ke, Qiwu Zhang and Xiaoman He. 2019. "Effects of Mixed Surfactant on Enhancing High Concentration Anthracene and Pyrene Removal from Contaminated Soil." Water, Air and Soil Pollution 230(6):1-12 doi: http://dx.doi.org/10.1007/s11270-019-4172-3.
1. Yang M, Ke J, Zhang Q, He X. Effects of mixed surfactant on enhancing high concentration anthracene and pyrene removal from contaminated soil. Water, Air and Soil Pollution 2019 06;230(6):1-12.
Yang, Min, Junfeng Ke, Qiwu Zhang, and Xiaoman He. "Effects of Mixed Surfactant on Enhancing High Concentration Anthracene and Pyrene Removal from Contaminated Soil." Water, Air and Soil Pollution 230, no. 6 (2019): 1-12. doi:http://dx.doi.org/10.1007/s11270-019-4172-3.
Yang, Min, et al. "Effects of Mixed Surfactant on Enhancing High Concentration Anthracene and Pyrene Removal from Contaminated Soil." Water, Air and Soil Pollution 230.6 (2019): 1-12.
What is a DOI?
DOI stands for "Digital Object Identifier". DOIs are permanent identifiers used to uniquely identify academic, professional, and government information, such as journal articles, electronic books, research reports, data sets, and official publications. Referring to an online document by its DOI is intended to provide a more stable link than simply using its URL, which may change over time.
All DOIs consist of a prefix and suffix — e.g. "
10.1037/rmh0000008". The "
10." part of the prefix distinguishes the handle as part of the DOI namespace and the characters "
1037" in the prefix identify the registrant (in this case the registrant is the publisher of the "Journal of rural mental health"). "
rmh0000008" is the suffix, or item ID, identifying a specific document (in this case, an article from that journal entitled "Rodeo cowboys: Conforming to masculine norms and help-seeking behaviors for depression").
A DOI can also be written as a link: https://doi.org/110.1037/rmh0000008. Clicking this link will take you to the publisher's website where, if the Library has a subscription you will be able to access the article. However, if the Library does not have a subscription (which is the case for this journal) you may be asked to buy the article yourself.
Don't buy it. That's what your library is for.
Many of our databases are searchable by DOI, so even if we don't have the article from the publisher, it may be available through another resource that the Library subscribes to. Follow this link to the Library's Citation Linker and click the "Look Up" button to find the article in the Library's online collection. In this case, the full text of the article is found in the PsycARTICLES database.
If the Library does not have access to the article from any our our subscription resources, the Citation Linker will then provide a link to Interlibrary Loan portal, where you can order a copy (generally without charge) from another library.
Citation Tools: Caution
Microsoft Word, certain databases and other on-line resources offer tools for formatting references in APA, Chicago, MLA and other common citation styles. However, these systems may not always provide accurately formatted or complete citations. It is important to double-check the accuracy of your results.
Citation management software tools, such as Zotero and Mendeley, are only as good as what fields you have included. If the automatic import function or you have left out fields when entering the citation – e.g., ending page numbers, issue number, etc. – this would affect the resulting citation generated.
The librarians at Le Moyne have noted that the Purdue OWL (Online Writing Lab) has begun including the Citation Machine on its pages. We have not been impressed with the quality of the citations this tool generates. It is fine to use it as a starting point, but be especially careful to proof-read and edit the results.