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BI 221/222/223: Principles of Biology

Successful Citations

There are two parts to creating successful citations - 1) deciding what information to reference, and 2) recording the citation in an acceptable format.

1)To avoid plagiarizing and successfully include the best information from what you read, check out these tips:

2)To successfully cite the articles, books or lectures that you refer to in your lab report in the correct format, use the following resources:

  • Follow the examples on your course Canvas site.
  • Follow the Ecological Society of America (ESA) reference examples provided on the Frontiers in Ecology journal website (look at the page section titled References Section: Examples)


Citation Tools

There are lots of websites that help you create and format citations to use in your writing. You may be familiar with sites like EasyBib or Son of Citation Machine. The drawback to these websites is that each time you to cite a book or article or website, you have to enter its information again.

Alternately, well-known citation manager programs like Zotero, EndNote, and Mendeley allow you to collect all the sources you use, track them in one convenient place, and easily create citations in the papers or reports you are preparing. You can reuse the same sources multiple times without having to track them down each time.

Interpreting Citations or References

When reading or creating citations, it is helpful to know what the different parts of a citation are. Below are three examples for three different source types used as examples on the Frontiers in Ecology journal website (the Instructions to Authors section of the site).  For each source type, the parts of the citation are identified.

Parts of a Citation - Journal Article

Parts of a journal citation

Parts of a Citation - Book Chapter

Parts of a book chapter citation

Parts of a Citation - Website

Please note that where parts of a website citation are not avaible (e.g. author), that information is simply not recorded. If no publication date is available, simple use the notation  for "no date" which is (nd).

Always record the website name, the website address, and the date you viewed or used the content.

Parts of a website citation