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BIO 101 - Finding, Reading, Summarizing, Critiquing, and Citing Scientific Research Articles

Common Scientific Citation Styles

Some styles you need to learn because you are going to write your citations in them, and some you should recognize so that you can read citations in them. Scientific styles share a few common traits:

  • the year is prominent, because in science up-to-date information is preferred;
  • authors are referred to by lastname and initials only (no full names);
  • and journals may be referred to by abbreviations (which can get confusing when you're reading citations.)

There are many, many styles used in different journals and in different subjects. A few of the more common ones biology students will run across are:

Turn APA to CBE

Different citation formats serve different purposes, but they all use the same basic information. Author, title, journal, date, volume, issue, pages, etc.

In Biology, the Council of Biological Editors/Council of Science Editors (CBE/CSE) is common. It is similar to APA, but simpler.

Here is an APA citation, similar to the ones produced by many of our library databases:

Haworth, M., Elliott-Kingston, C., & McElwain, J. C. (2013). Co-ordination of physiological and morphological responses of stomata to elevated CO2 in vascular plants. Oecologia, 171(1), 71-82. doi: 10.1007/s00442-012-2406-9

Here is the same citation in CBE (name/year style):

Haworth M, Elliott-Kingston C, McElwain JC. 2013. Co-ordination of physiological and morphological responses of stomata to elevated CO2 in vascular plants. Oecologia 171(1):71-82.

Differences and how to change an APA citation to CBE:

  1. APA has commas between the author last names and the initials, and periods after the initials. CBE does not have most of that punctuation, but does keep the commas between names (ie after the initials). Remove the commas after last names, and the periods after initials.
  2. APA has parentheses around the year. CBE does not. Remove the parentheses around the year.
  3. APA puts the Journal Title and Volume Number in italics. CBE does not. Change the journal title and volume number from italics to normal.
  4. APA has a comma after the issue number (which is in parentheses), before the page numbers. CBE uses a colon. Replace the comma before the page numbers with a colon.
  5. APA includes the DOI (digital object identifier) if available, or "Retrieved [date] from [URL]" for online articles without DOIs. CBE does not include either. Remove the DOI or "Retrieved" statement, if present.

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