The Fundamentals of Journal Citation
Citation Research Writing

The Fundamentals of Journal Citation

Kanu Priya
Kanu Priya

What Are Citations?

It is an established principle that you should cite sources so as to uphold intellectual honesty, avoid plagiarism and let readers know where your ideas came from. And indeed, when it comes to writing a research paper, it must contain credible references. In simple words, citing is nothing but establishing a verifiable source of information. Citations are traditionally used to describe where you have taken the lead rather than reflect your thoughts and opinions. However, it enables your audience/readers to understand the origin of your information and draw their own conclusions.

This guide is sheerly intended to teach you about the fundamentals of journal citations and how to use cite references in proper formats.

Citation Styles And Their Use

The choice of citation style will be driven by the field in which you're writing, and for most assignments, your instructor will suggest a style to you.

However, as you advance through your academic career, you may find more flexibility in choosing a style that works for you. It's always safe to consult with your instructor and colleagues as to what style is appropriate.

There are three crucial citation styles used in academic writing:

Modern Language Association (MLA)

American Psychological Association (APA)

Chicago, which further assists two classes:

Notes and Bibliography


A lot of other citation styles are also used in particular academic journals.

Here is a short and explanatory guide to help you figure out which style you should opt for:

1. DISCIPLINE | Humanities: Art History, Philosophy,  English, Religion, Language, Linguistics, Music


MLA style uses additional in-text citations and a "Works Cited" list to link sources after a paper.

JUSTIFICATION: The humanities highlight authorship and explain primary sources in a historical context. The author's name is the first information preceding the title and publication information at the "Works Cited" list at the very end of the work.

2. DISCIPLINE | Education, Engineering, Social Sciences


APA style uses additional in-text citations and a "References" list to link sources at the end of the paper.

JUSTIFICATION: These disciplines focus on the date of creation or publication to keep a check on currency and relevance. The date is listed after the author's name in the "References" list.

3. DISCIPLINE | History or the Humanities

STYLE: Chicago Notes & Bibliography

Chicago Notes use footnotes and endnotes to link the text to sources.

JUSTIFICATION: A "Bibliography" page typically accompanies it.

4. DISCIPLINE | Physical, Natural, or Social Sciences

STYLE: Chicago Author-Date

Chicago author-date uses parenthetical in-text citations and references or works cited list at the end, just like the APA style.

JUSTIFICATION: Usually accompanied by "References" or "Works Cited" pages.

The Importance Of Citation


Giving proper credit to sources may seem like a no-brainer, as it should, to a scientist. Still, there are many instances where appropriate attribution goes unchecked.

Sir Isaac Newton wrote a letter to Robert Hooke in 1675 containing the famous words, "If I have seen further, it is by standing upon the shoulders of giants," this may serve as a concise reminder that even the most famous scientists depended on their forebears.

Following are some of the most crucial reasons why you should always cite the information you use in your academic writing:

  1. Citations make your research skills top-notch.

In order to properly attribute a source, there are several things you must do; provide all the information about the source, including author names, page numbers, and credible facts you unveil in your work. Attention to details and patterns hold true for exemplary research.

Becoming detail-oriented in one aspect automatically implants positive habits while writing your research. The ability to interpret trends and patterns is a vital skill in scientific analysis, and that's why it's important to prepare an excellent bibliography prior to your research.

2.  The Bibliography has uncanny importance

Your bibliography can function as an emblem of your knowledge and expertise in a particular academic subject. A long bibliography can also succeed in conveying the fact that you are an avid reader.

If you aim to submit your work to a scientific journal, ensure that your bibliography is up-to-date and contains all the literature you used. The worst thing you want is a reviewer stating that you are not well-versed in your field, and for what; just because you forgot to cite a crucial and well-known work of scientific literature!

3. Citations construct your eminence as a scholar

Showing off scholarship is naturally the cherry on the cake of what a well-cited article has to offer. In fact, the amount of documentation you attach to your research and arguments is one of the factors that determine how credible you are among your scientific peers. A good bibliography is just another way to establish your veracity. Credibility.

4.  Citing practices polish your writing proficiency.

Direct attribution is a strong foundation for an elegant paper. The more you engage the reader, the more you can get across what's important to convey. Moreover, citing specific sources for the various facts, we strive to eliminate the emblems of intellectual laziness. You provide the information in your source, and readers can check your source if they doubt your argument. "Furthermore, by quoting, you can easily use active language and avoid raising the dreaded red flag of passivity to journal editors and reviewers."

5. Citation validates your research.

In the course of its development, academic writing gets reviewed and edited several times before it eventually makes it to the print phase. Once you assign all the information and cite your sources, the paper is more likely to have a positive review and the least criticism. Unfortunately, when it comes to evaluating a journal, the harshest critics are for not having cited all required references.

How To Cite Research Papers In Various Formats

Any academic work including, dissertations, thesis, and academic papers, needs to be cited using appropriate citation styles. Citing academic papers is done to counteract plagiarism. In addition, these citing formats are used to recognise related literary pieces and to mention references used. Therefore, you should study various citing styles and research papers well before producing essays or other academic articles.                                  

APA Research Paper Format

Source -

MLA Research Paper Format

Source - 

Chicago Research paper Format

Source -

Leveraging Citation Databases Gives You An Edge

Citation databases are collections of references to items like books, articles, and thesis. These references can be used as evidence that an idea has been initially published by someone else. Similar to all domains of study, citation analysis requires a specific way to record information. You can hunt for articles on the topic of your choice, read and cite them in your work.

Some leading and popular databases are listed below:

  1. Web of science - One of the most trusted databases, web of science has Contains citation data from more than 10,000 of the most cited, peer-reviewed journals. As stated in Clarivate, over 12 million gold and green versioned articles, as well as bronze free-to-read articles, are available from 5,000 fully open access, hybrid and subscription journals. The Web of Science is a fusion of several databases, including Science Citation Index, Arts & Humanities Citation Index, Social Sciences Citation Index, and Conference Proceedings Citation Index.
  2. Scopus - It is a multidisciplinary database, Containing about 21,500 scientific journals from more than 5000 publishers. It also includes about 4200 Open Access journals, 7.2 million conference publications, 360 trade journals, and 113,000 books. Scopus covers journals over the range of science, technology, medicine, social sciences, and arts and humanities.
  3. Google Scholar - It is a freely accessible database that searches for required data on the web. It lets you specifically search for scholarly works like peer-reviewed papers. Discover scholarly work from universities, publishers, and preprint repositories.
  4. PubMed - Providing free access to biomedical literature from MEDLINE, life science journals, and online books since 1950. It covers more than 11 million bibliographic citations and abstracts from nearly 4,500 journals in the fields of medicine, nursing, dentistry, veterinary medicine, pharmacy, allied health, health care systems, and pre-clinical sciences.
  5. ScienceDirect - It is a Science(Multidisciplinary) database published by Elsevier. Madison Libraries stated that this subset includes more than 1000 journals and thousands of ebooks in a wide range of subject areas. It lets you search for ebooks and subscribed titles from the records with ease.
  6. ABI/Inform - Updated daily, this business-related database offers thousands of academic papers, proper journals, industry profiles, and leading newspapers like WSJ and The Financial Times. Topics like finance and accounting are extensively covered, and others, including real estate, management, and marketing, are also taken care of.
  7. Academic Search -First Established by EBSCO in 1997, Academic Search includes more than 8,500 full-text periodicals, including more than 7,300 peer-reviewed journals. In addition, Academic Complete offers indexing and abstracts for more than 10,100 journals and a total of more than 10,600 publications, including reports and conference proceedings, among others. The PDF back-file content coverage is from 1887.
  8. JSTOR- Available in various languages like English, French, Dutch, German, and more, its main focus is in the fields of architecture, anthropology, biological sciences, botany, ecology, mathematics, language, education, finance, folklore, history, film, literature, economics, music, sociology, political science, demography, religion, philosophy, and statistics.
  9. Nexis Uni - It provides access to over 17,000 print and online journals, including sources related to law, business; radio, television broadcasting; regional and international newspapers, newswires; legal sources for state and federal cases, including U.S. Supreme Court decisions since 1790; and relevant data on over 75 million executives and 80 million U.S. and international corporations.
  10. PsycINFO - It is a psychology-based database from the American Psychological Association (APA) that accommodates over three million citations and summaries of journals, books, reports, and dissertations, all in the area of psychology, behavioural science, and mental health.

Citation Count

The amount of papers you publish plays a vital role in your career. "Publish early and often" can be heard multiple times in academic writing. Your effort has a significant impact on the amount of progress you make in your research.

Expanding your citation count also positively impacts your career. The funding agencies often look at an excellent healthy combination of the number of papers published and the number of citations used when making business decisions.

But before you go,


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