Posts in citation

You can quote me on this one (2/4)

octubre 19th, 2011 Posted by author-date style, blog, citation, identification code, reference list, The sorcerer's apprentice No Comment yet

Would be so nice if you’d ibidem-ize my work

Now that you know how to quote the right way (not yet? Check the first post of this series), here you will learn the most important points on title identifiers such as ISBN, ISSN and DOI, which you should always quote as far as possible at the end of your bibliographical entry, to give your reader several options to locate each reference. If you don’t know what those acronyms are all about yet, don’t worry, you will after reading this post. I will also introduce you to the author-date system, the referencing style used by academics all over the world. Let’s start with the identification codes, i.e. with codes to identify sources such as books, serial and digital publications.

What do these acronyms stand for?


The most common title identifier stands for International Standard Book Number; you will find it in each published book. By the ISBN number, book handling becomes easier for everybody implied in book sales: the publishing houses, the bookshops, the libraries and… for you as a reader, an author, and a scientific bibliographer.


The e stands for electronic (you guessed it, yes) and it is used for the digital version of a book; if a book was launched only in digital format, the ISBN automatically is the eISBN—it’s the same number. If it was first published as a print version, you may have to look for an extra eISBN number for the digital copy.

The International Standard Serial Number is used for serial resources such as magazines, newspapers or yearbooks.


It works like the eISBN but it is not for books but for periodicals. Yes, you guessed it again.

The Digital Object Identifier is a code for electronic objects. Now you may want to argue that an ISBN is a digital object identifier as well. And you are right, but while ISBN identifies any monography (remember?) in any media, DOI only identifies online publications, no matter their extent, that is, with a DOI you can identify parts of the whole, such as chapters, graphs, or tables. This object identification is necessary because a URL does not mark the object itself but its location in the web. A DOI is unchangeable and is not linked to a determined storage place; it is a permanent URL which means it does not only serve the purpose of object identification but also takes you to its location as well. What’s really interesting about DOI is its address function, and also the online identification for publications.

The author-date system

Now that you are familiar to the most common identification codes for publications, let us focus on the author-date system, also known as Harvard style. If you want to become a part on the international scientific community, you just need it because it is commonly accepted as the citation style of choice. Harvard (as it is also called by insiders J) covers both referencing within the text (including the author and year of publication) and organizing your bibliographical data, usually at the end of your work. As we have dealt with the reference list in further detail in the first post of this series, we will just concentrate on the ways of referencing in the text at this point. There are basically two types of referencing in your text:

  1. Citation

When you think that the author’s statement is really what you want to say, you can take the original and copy it down word by word. This citation could look like this:

“Through increasingly accurate description and negotiation of observations from different sources of data, we can get closer, perhaps not to an ‘objective’ result, but to shared replicable experiences and results” (Hansen 2003: 40).

Or like this:

Hansen (2003:40) states that “through increasingly accurate description and negotiation of observations from different sources of data, we can get closer, perhaps not to an ‘objective’ result, but to shared replicable experiences and results.”

In most cases, however, you should apply the way described in 2 below.

  1. Paraphrase or summary

If you want to express something another person said in your own words, you could summarize or paraphrase it, for example like this:

Hansen (2003:40) states that by triangulating different methods it could be possible to gain some intersubjective insights.

Of course, you have to offer the complete data for this reference in the bibliography, at the end of your text.

You can take PETRA’s style sheet as an example for a reference list style, which includes some advice on the handling of the identification codes introduced above as well.


First post of this series (2011). You can quote me on this one – please do.

Monash University Library (2006). Harvard (author-date) style examples.

PETRA’s style sheet (2011)

Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences Libraries (2009). ISBN, ISSN, DOI and URN:NBN.

Williams College Libraries (2009). Chicago Manual of Style.


by P. Klimant

You can quote me on this one (1/4)

agosto 5th, 2011 Posted by bibliographical data, blog, citation, plagiarism, reference management software, The sorcerer's apprentice No Comment yet

Please do

About six months ago Karl-Theodor zu Guttenberg, the German Defense Minister at that time, was on everyone’s lips. The Internet platform Wikiplag established proof that zu Guttenberg had cheated in his dissertation, five years ago. He had copied more than half of “his” work without indicating any references. The whole story becomes even more remarkable when you consider the slogan under which zu Guttenberg is still promoting his website: “responsibility is a commitment”. So let’s commit ourselves to responsibility and go the right way of citing the references in our scientific works to avoid plagiarism, which is in no way acceptable—not only in scientific work, but in any area of life.

There are, of course, some rules to follow in order to make clear which ideas in your paper are your own and which ones originally belonged to someone else. There is absolutely nothing wrong with copying and pasting as long as you indicate the source you got it from. In fact, referenced verbatim quoting is considered good scholarship, and only translation scholars do now and then change this to introduce a translation in the body of the text and (always!) the original in a footnote, to keep with both the scholarly norm and the translators’ commitment of making reading reasonably easy.

Rule #1 Give the reference(s) of any idea you are using in your work that is not your own.

Anything that has not been referenced at all will be understood as your own ideas. That is why you should consider it an ethical commitment and a scientific obligation to spell out the references wherever you have taken in some way some other people’s thoughts. Quite difficult to get the feeling for it, right? But believe me, you will get used to it quite fast. The sooner you start quoting correctly (here comes the best part of it all), the earlier you will start feeling real good about your work. Not only because you “come clean” and show your colleagues you have nothing to hide, but also because you realize your work becomes part of a net.

Rule #2: Any reference should at least comprise the standard bibliographical data.

These data are basically the author’s/authors’ name(s), the year, the title, the city, and the publishing house. Of course, they have to be expanded where necessary. You should give all the bibliographical data available on each reference. Reference management software like Citavi, Endnote and Mendeley (see also here) is easy to handle and saves you a lot of work once you know how to use them. Just try them out.

So, let me put it this way: your piece of work is an atom from a molecule, or one more brick in the enormous building of knowledge. If you don’t link it to the body of knowledge upon which it stands, O Lord, the winds of oblivion will just sweep your paper away from the surface of Earth. You have been warned. In my next post I will give you some additional hints.

Further reading

Allen, Timothy T. Comp. 2000. Citing References in Scientific Research Papers.

Holland Jones, James. 2010. A Style Guide for Scientific Research Papers. StanfordUniversity. 2007. Dissertation Reference & Thesis Citation Help
for Doctoral & Graduate Students


by P. Klimant

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