Table of Contents (Guide To Publication)

Part II: Preparing, Presenting and Polishing Your Work – Chapter 5

5.2 Last but Not Least: References, Citations and Quotations

Some of you are no doubt already shuddering, and accurate referencing can be a challenge, but it need not be a nightmare. It does require a significant investment of both time and careful attention, however, and the research in a paper, like the argument, is the author’s own, so you are the only one who can truly judge when a citation of any given source is appropriate. In many cases you are also the only one among your first readers (including proofreaders, student assistants, colleagues and that all-important journal editor) who has access to the complete bibliographical information for your references. It is your responsibility as an academic or scientific author to record your references with absolute integrity and precision, and getting them right is well worth the effort, not only because sound references are a quality of sound scholarship, but also because the consequences can be unpleasant for both the author and the journal if the bibliographical details in a paper, and worse yet the intellectual use of sources, are misrepresented or simply wrong.

So you should begin by recording your sources and every aspect of the use you make of them accurately and thoroughly. This is a process best achieved by keeping detailed, accurate and up-to-date records during the design, research and trial stages of your study. Such records will give you the raw material you need to build your reference list and effectively connect your in-text citations to the sources the list includes. Journal guidelines should then be read with extreme care, paying close attention to all examples provided to determine exactly what style of referencing you should use. Any manuals or style guides recommended by the guidelines should also be consulted, especially if you find yourself dealing with an unusual source or one for which you can find in the journal guidelines neither an example nor precise instructions as to how to record it. Finally, you will need to do your best to provide all the information necessary in the correct order, format and position, and check it all with the utmost care (and ideally more than once with more than one set of eyes) for accuracy and consistency of spelling, dates, quotations, capitalisation, punctuation, fonts, abbreviations and so on.

So yes, good referencing takes a lot of work, but if you’re lucky enough to have a capable graduate student who could use a little extra cash, helping you sort out the details of your references and citations can be an excellent way for a student to learn about the nitty-gritty of publishing in an academic or scientific journal. The final responsibility lies with the author, however, and the sections below suggest some practices and methods that may prove helpful.

5.2.1 In-Text Citations and Quotations: Where and How To Acknowledge Sources

Although referencing styles vary considerably among style manuals and journal guidelines, and any required variations should always be followed to the letter, there are three basic methods of referring to sources in the body of an academic or scientific paper: author-date citations (which tend to be used in the physical, natural and social sciences, although the Modern Language Association style sometimes used in the humanities varies this slightly by not using a date), numerical citations (frequently the referencing choice for papers in the medical and biological sciences) and citations contained in either footnotes or endnotes (preferred by many scholars working in the humanities). The first two methods are discussed in this section and the third in Section 5.2.2 below.

In all three cases, the basic principle of when to provide a reference or citation remains the same: whenever you use the ideas or methods or results or words of another author, you should provide a reference to that author’s work, but exactly where to place the citation varies. If, for instance, you’re discussing an author’s work or using his or her ideas throughout a sentence, then the end of the sentence is usually the best place for the reference. If you’re making use of a source throughout a whole paragraph, then be sure to provide the reference with the sentence in which you first begin referring to the source, rather than waiting until the end of the paragraph, although it’s fine to include a citation at the end of the paragraph as well, and good, too, to include a citation whenever you feel it might be appropriate to acknowledge the author again in the midst of the paragraph. Certainly if you’re referring to more than one source by the same author, you should provide a reference to each source wherever relevant. If only part of a sentence makes use of a particular source, then the citation to that source should come immediately after the relevant material in the sentence so that it’s clear exactly what part of your work is dependent on that source. If part of the sentence makes use of one source and the next part borrows from another source, then provide two citations, with the appropriate source cited after the relevant information in each case. You can also provide these two citations (or more if necessary) together at the end of the sentence: although this is most appropriate if the sentence as a whole makes use of both sources, a few guidelines call for all citations to be clustered at the end of sentences or paragraphs. Generally speaking, however, when you quote an author directly, it’s essential that you provide a citation at once, and include with it the number of the page on which the words you’ve quoted can be found.

In an author-date system of referencing, the last name (or names) of the author (or authors) should be provided along with the publication date of the source. This can be done entirely in parentheses – ‘The study (Smith, 2010) showed…’ – or by mentioning the author’s name in the main text and including the date in parentheses: ‘Smith’s study (2010) showed….’ If you provide two or more references to works by the same author within a single set of parentheses (or square brackets if the guidelines call for them instead), the dates should be arranged chronologically and separated by commas – (Smith, 2010, 2012, 2013) or more rarely the other way around (Smith, 2013, 2012, 2010) but not (Smith, 2012, 2010, 2013) – and the order used in the in-text citations should match that used in the reference list (see Section 5.2.3). If references to different authors are provided within a single set of parentheses, then the citations should be separated by semi-colons and arranged either alphabetically by author name (matching their order in the reference list) or chronologically by date or using a combination of both, depending on the referencing style. In APA style, for instance, this would be the correct format: (Jones, 2013; McGraw, 2003; McGraw & Hill, 2001; Smith, 2010, 2012). Chicago referencing, on the other hand, leaves the order up to the author, whether alphabetical or chronological, but whichever order is used in whichever style, specific journal guidelines should be accommodated and the pattern decided upon should be used consistently throughout the paper.

There are various other differences between individual referencing styles. Some use a comma between the author’s name and the date as I have in the preceding paragraph (Smith, 2010) and some do not (Smith 2010). Some use an ampersand (&) while others use ‘and’ between author names for sources with more than one author, but as a general rule, ‘and’ should be used in the main text – ‘McGraw and Hill (2003) argue that…’ – even if an ampersand is used parenthetically (McGraw & Hill, 2003). The use of ‘et al.’ in in-text citations also varies from style to style: in Chicago and Harvard referencing, for instance, ‘et al.’ should be used after the first author’s name if the source has four or more authors, though Harvard style also allows the use of ‘et al.’ when a source has only three authors. Chicago style uses a full stop after ‘et al.’ (Thompson et al. 2008), whereas Harvard referencing does not (Thompson et al, 2008). Sometimes ‘et al.’ should appear in italic font, but this is usually a requirement of specific journals. In APA style, ‘et al.’ is followed by a full stop and italics are not required, but when to use ‘et al.’ is a little more complicated. If a source has three to five authors, all authors should be listed for the first citation in a paper (Thompson, Smith, Jones, & Johnson, 2008), but all subsequent in-text references should use the first author’s name followed by ‘et al.’ (Thompson et al., 2008), so special care needs to be taken to ensure that each citation appears in the correct format. For six or more authors, APA style uses ‘et al.’ after the first author’s name in all references to the source, including the first one (on the use of ‘et al.,’ see also Section 4.2).

If you find that you use in your paper two or more sources with the same date and by the same author (or authors), you’ll need to add a lowercase letter to each date regardless of which author-date referencing system you’re using (Smith, 2010a, 2010b; Thompson et al., 2008a). You will need to add these letters to the dates of the same sources in your reference list as well so that your in-text references successfully lead your readers to the right source in every case. In fact, everything about the author and date information provided in in-text citations within a paper must correspond exactly to the same information in the accompanying reference list, so author names and dates should be carefully compared between the paper and list to ensure absolute accuracy. Finally, your parenthetical citations should also be appropriately positioned in relation to the punctuation of your sentences, generally before any punctuation marks: e.g., ‘According to Smith (2010a), there was…’ and ‘…just as a recent study has shown (Smith, 2012).’

In a numerical system of referencing such as that required by Vancouver style and the guidelines of a number of journals that call for variations on the Vancouver system, each source used is assigned an Arabic (rarely a Roman) numeral and that same number is used every time the same source is cited in a paper. The sources are numbered according to the order in which they are referred to in the paper, so the first source cited will be number 1, the second, number 2, and so on. The method for numbering any references that appear in tables and figures differs between guidelines: some would have such references numbered after all those in the paper itself, while others ask that references in a table or figure be numbered according to where the table or figure is mentioned in the paper. It’s essential to number sources correctly because errors can mean having to change the numbers of all sources cited after a misnumbered one in both the paper and the reference list. Using numbers for citations doesn’t mean that author names and dates cannot be provided if you want or need this information in your paper, but only that they don’t need to be and that a source’s number must appear in the text whether you provide additional information or not: ‘In 2003, McGraw and Hill studied this phenomenon.(1)’ Vancouver style sets the reference numbers inside parentheses or what it calls  ‘round brackets’ (as I’ve done in the example above) or uses a superscript font for them: ‘McGraw and Hill1 argue that….’ However, some journal guidelines will call for square brackets instead [1].

Groups of citations can be gathered together in a numerical referencing style much as they are in an author-date system simply by listing the numbers of all relevant sources separated by commas (1,2,5,8,12). If three or more consecutive numbers need to be listed, a hyphen should be used between the first and last numbers (1-3,5-9). In Vancouver referencing, no spaces are used between the numbers, but some journals will provide examples that do use spaces, so be sure to check the journal guidelines for precise instructions. As with an author-date referencing style, Vancouver-style citations should be appropriately positioned to indicate with accuracy your use of sources in your text, but standard placement in relation to punctuation calls for the reference numbers to follow full stops and commas (‘According to McGraw and Hill,1 …’) and precede colons and semi-colons (‘The following categories are considered in McGraw and Hill1: …’). Again, however, journal guidelines sometimes call for slightly different placement (before commas and full stops, for example), so always check those guidelines.

Whether you’re using an author-date or a numerical referencing style for your in-text citations, you will need to provide a page number (or page numbers) when you quote directly from a source. The format for recording page numbers varies from style to style:

  • APA: (Smith, 2010, p. 222) and for multiple pages (Smith, 2010, pp. 222-223)
  • Chicago: (Smith 2010, 222) and for multiple pages (Smith 2010, 222–223)
  • Harvard: (Smith, 2010: p.222) and for multiple pages (Smith, 2010:pp.222-223)
  • Vancouver in parentheses or square brackets: Smith (1 p222) and for multiple pages Smith [1 pp222-223]
  • Vancouver in superscript font: Smith1(p222) and for multiple pages Smith1(pp222-223)
  • MLA (Modern Language Association), which cites page numbers even when there is no direct quotation: (Smith 222) and for multiple pages (Smith 222-223)

Notice that the punctuation between page numbers is usually a hyphen, but sometimes (in the case of Chicago referencing above, for instance, and also in the reference examples provided by some journals) a longer dash is used: either way, there should be no space on either side of the hyphen or dash. Beyond that, spacing varies between styles, and so does the use of a full stop after p. or pp. Page ranges can be condensed in format (pp.222-23 or pp.222-3 instead of pp.222-223), but only if the guidelines you’re following clearly indicate that this is permitted; if in doubt or deciding for yourself, use the full number on both sides of the hyphen or dash. If the source you’re quoting does not have page numbers (many online sources, for instance, do not), try to be as precise as possible about the location of the words you quote so your reader can find the passage: (Smith, 2007, Discussion section, para. 4) is a good APA example. However, some styles and guidelines will ask that authors do not provide paragraph numbers unless the paragraphs are already numbered in the source.

It was once the case that double quotation marks (“ ”) were seen as more American and single ones (‘ ’) as more British, but both kinds are used for direct quotation in both forms of English now, and interestingly, it is Harvard referencing that calls for single quotation marks on direct quotations from sources, reserving double quotation marks for direct speech. Many journal guidelines and some style manuals will have little or nothing to say on the matter, but the quotation examples they provide will sometimes help you determine which type of marks to use: both APA and Vancouver styles, for instance, show examples using double quotation marks. Articles already published by a journal will also provide examples to consult, but you will often find that one paper uses one kind and one another. This means that either is acceptable to the journal, so you will need to choose which to use, with the key being to use the same type of quotation marks whenever you are quoting a source directly. It is also a good idea to use the other type of quotation marks when you are not quoting but using quotation marks only to emphasise words and phrases: double quotation marks for direct quotations, for example, and single ones for emphasis (or vice versa). In this way, you make it clear to your readers exactly when you are quoting from a source and when you are not. In this guide, for instance, letters, words, phrases and longer examples of the forms I’m discussing are enclosed in single quotation marks (‘emphasis’), but direct quotations from other sources are enclosed in double quotation marks (“quotation”).

Emphasis on terms and phrases can also be achieved through the use of italic font, and some journal guidelines express preferences in this regard, but italics should not be used as an indication of quotation: that is, every quoted word need not be in italics. Italics should only be used in quotations for two specific reasons: for one, they are used if italic font is already on certain words in the quotation (for emphasis perhaps, or on foreign vocabulary), in which case including them on the same words is simply quoting accurately. Sometimes, especially in informal publications (theses and dissertations, for example), underlining (or underscoring) will appear instead of italics: since this is simply a form of emphasis used when the italic font is not available, underlining can be represented in quotation by either underlining or italics. Italics can also be used in quotations if you wish to add your own emphasis to some of the quoted words, but if you choose to do this, you need to acknowledge the italics as your own: Smith explains that his ‘results did not reveal the trend of rapid deterioration noted in previous studies’ (2010, p. 222; italics my own).

Punctuation practices with regard to quotations differ among styles and guidelines, with some systems, for instance, placing the full stop or comma associated with your own sentence within the closing quotation mark (‘…noted in previous studies.’) and others placing it outside (‘…noted in previous studies’.). In this Guide I’ve set full stops and commas inside quotation marks. If a parenthetical reference follows a quotation, the closing punctuation should always come after the reference. Colons, semi-colons, question marks and exclamations should be added after the closing quotation mark unless they are present in the source you’re quoting, in which case they should be included within the quotation. Minor changes in punctuation and capitalisation can be made to a quotation if the changes are necessary to make the quotation work effectively within the grammar and structure of your own sentence. So, for example, if you’re quoting a whole sentence, you can change the initial capital to a lowercase letter: According to Smith (2010), ‘the results did not reveal the trend of rapid deterioration noted in previous studies’ (p. 222, where the first ‘The’ bore an uppercase ‘T’ in the original). These minor changes do not require the use of square brackets.

Beyond minor changes in punctuation and capitalisation in quotations, any quoted material should be provided in your paper in the exact same format as it appears in the source. When you need to add something significant to a quoted passage to make it work in your own sentence, you should use square brackets around the added material: Smith (2010, p. 222) was surprised that his ‘results did not reveal the trend of rapid deterioration [because this trend had been] noted in previous studies.’ An ellipsis, on the other hand, should be used when you delete words from the middle of a quotation: Smith (2010, p. 222) was surprised that his ‘results did not reveal the trend…noted in previous studies.’ An ellipsis is not required, however, at the beginning or end of a quotation (I use ellipses in those positions in some examples, not quotations, in this Guide simply to clarify relevant formats). It is always best to change as little as possible in a quotation; after all, you’re presumably quoting the words of another author because they serve your present purpose. Long quotations (40 words or more is a common guideline) are best indented as block quotations: these start on a new line, are noticeably indented on the left-hand side, and do not require quotation marks.

All quotations should be introduced and discussed clearly and accurately. Beyond the formatting techniques above which will let your readers know that a quotation is a quotation, identifying the author (or speaker) is often helpful and the quoted material should definitely be logically connected to the argument of your paper. With the exception of quotations that contain pithy, proverbial sayings that neatly sum up concepts, or passages addressing the very issues with which you are dealing in the same or similar language, quotations aren’t really able to move an argument on their own: they can do a lot, but they need to be used thoughtfully and their function in your paper should always be clear. Your readers may not be making the same connections you are, so those connections need to be explained. Always use a quotation in a way that makes it absolutely clear exactly how it relates to your present argument, perhaps analyse it in some detail in relation to your own thoughts or evidence, and definitely explain any terminology or concepts used in it if you do not use (and explain) the same language and terminology in your own text. An author quotes to make his or her evidence and arguments more interesting, more striking and more persuasive, but a quotation cannot achieve this if you do not explain for your readers your thoughts about a quoted passage and how both it and those thoughts fit into your argument.

This article is part of a book called Guide to Academic and Scientific Publication: How To Get Your Writing Published in Scholarly Journals. It provides practical advice on planning, preparing and submitting articles for publication in scholarly journals.

Whether you are looking for information on designing an academic or scientific article, constructing a scholarly argument, targeting the right journal, following journal guidelines with precision, providing accurate and complete references, writing correct and elegant scholarly English, communicating with journal editors or revising your paper in light of that communication, you will find guidance, tips and examples in this manual.

This book is focusing on sound scholarly principles and practices as well as the expectations and requirements of academic and scientific journals, this guide is suitable for use in a wide variety of disciplines, including Economics, Engineering, the Humanities, Law, Management, Mathematics, Medicine and the Social, Physical and Biological Sciences .

Table of Contents (Guide To Publication)