Citation! Citation! Citation!

When you write a research or a review paper, keep in mind that specific formats vary considerably for each journal. If you want to submit your paper to a specific journal, you will be asked to follow the format of that journal. Some journals, such as Science and Nature, use a number system for citation. We are not presenting that system here, but you should expect to encounter it in the literature. (Can you cite Wikipedia?)

Citation in the Body of the Paper

Throughout the body of your paper, mainly the Introduction and Discussion), whenever you refer to outside sources of information, you need to cite those sources. A simple way of doing this is to parenthetically give the author’s last name and the year of publication, e.g., (Clarke 2001). You must report the relevant aspects of the work clearly, IN YOUR OWN WORDS, without copying their exact words. You must insert a reference to the work right after giving the information.

There are exceptions among the various science journals. Generally, in biological journals, the most common types of citations are shown in the following examples:

  • The Actinobacteria represent a diverse phylum of bacteria capable of immense secondary metabolic capacity (Monciardini et al., 2014).
  • Alignments were manually inspected and trimmed with trimAl (Capella-Gutiérrez et al., 2009) using the automated1 setting resulting in approximately 1500 bp of aligned sequence. The GTR+I+G evolutionary model was selected using MrModeltest (Nylander, 2004) and a maximum-likelihood tree was built using RAxML (Stamatakis, 2006) with 1000 bootstrap replicates. Visual aids were then added using the Interactive Tree of Life (iTOL) (Letunic & Bork, 2016).
  • For example, the Gac-Rsm system, the stationary phase sigma factor RpoS, a positive activator of rpoS, called PsrA and the stringent response (SR) all function to control expression of antifungal (AF) compounds (Poritsanos et al., 2006; Manuel et al., 2012; Selin et al., 2012, 2014).

If an author’s first name is hyphenated, as in Shu-Feng Tsao above, retain the hyphen.

Theses and dissertations are cited as follows:

Wilson, P.L. (2011). Pedagogical practices in the teaching of English language in secondary public schools in Parker County (Doctoral dissertation). Retrieved from //

Citation of the Internet sources: WWW citation should be done carefully since so many of the Internet posts are not peer reviewed. When necessary, report the complete URL, as well as the author’s name if possible:

For information on evaluating internet sources, look at:

Citation of personal communications: If some of the cited information was not gained from publications, but rather in a personal conversation with or letter from an expert on the subject, you should give credit to that person in the following format:

“It has been found that female mice …. phase three of courtship behavior (D. Miller, pers. comm.).”

You do not need to enter a date for a personal communication. It will not be entered in your Literature Cited section. However, You should thank the source of the information in your Acknowledgments for their contribution.

Hire an editor to fix your citation errors!

About Scientific Editing: ( Scientific Editing is a trusted science editing company that provides editing and proofreading services for the global research community. Scientific Editing was established with a goal to accelerate international scientific research communication. At Scientific Editing, we take great effort to understand our authors’ needs. We aim to help scientists and academic authors break through the language barriers, bridge the gap between authors and peer-reviewed journals, and accelerate the process of publishing high-quality articles.

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By Bizhan Romani

Dr. Bizhan Romani has a PhD in medical virology. When it comes to writing an article about science and research, he is one of our best writers. He is also an expert in blogging about writing styles, proofreading methods, and literature.

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