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In principle citing is fine in any way that attributes the original author(s) unambiguously. The highest principle should always be: Give credit.

However, recently we decided to have a community driven big-list, i.e. Resources for learning Chemistry (main), (meta). Since the thread is growing with input from many people around the globe, many of them having a personal favored citation style, this post aims to offer guidelines how citations are handled consistently.

Therefore the scope of this post is not about how to link to papers or how to link to books, it's about having a common recommended citation style for cited papers, books, etc. on chemistry.se. Its main purpose is to keep contributions consistent throughout (most of) the site, but especially the community driven posts.

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The ACS Style Guide recommends extensive style conventions for citing references.
The following is just a short excerpt from chapter 14.

Periodicals

Author 1; Author 2; Author 3; etc. Title of Article. Journal Abbreviation Year, Volume, Inclusive Pagination.

Author 1; Author 2; Author 3; etc. Journal Abbreviation Year, Volume, Inclusive Pagination.

  • Author name
    Include all author names in a reference citation (Some publications list the first 10 authors followed by a semicolon and et al.). With multiple authors, separate the names from one another by semicolons. Always end the author field with a period. List the names in inverted form: surname first, then first initial, middle initial, and qualifiers (Jr., II). Use periods and spaces after initials in persons’ names.

  • Article title
    Article titles are not essential in reference citations, but they are considered desirable to highlight the contents of a paper and facilitate location in reference libraries. Article titles are set in roman type without quotation marks and end with a period (or a question mark if that is part of the title). Capitalization follows that of the original publication.

  • Journal abbreviation
    Abbreviate the journal name according to the Chemical Abstracts Service Source Index (CASSI), and italicize it. One-word journal names are not abbreviated (e.g., Biochemistry, Macromolecules, Nature, Science). No punctuation is added to end this field; thus, a period will be there with an abbreviation but not with a spelled-out word.

    Caruso, R. A.; Susha, A.; Caruso, F. Multilayered Titania, Silica, and Laponite Nanoparticle Coatings on Polystyrene Colloidal Templates and Resulting Inorganic Hollow Spheres. Chem. Mater. 2001, 13, 400–409.

  • Year of publication
    The year is set in boldface type, followed by a comma in boldface type.

  • Publication volume
    The volume number is set in italic type and is separated from the pagination information by a comma.
    For periodicals in which each issue begins with page 1, include issue information (either the number or the date) in the publication volume field. Issue information is set in roman type, enclosed in parentheses, and spaced from the volume number, which it directly follows.

    Mullin, R. Chem. Eng. News 2005, 83 (42), 7.

    Mullin, R. Chem. Eng. News 2005, 83 (Oct 17), 7.

    For journals that have no volume numbers, include issue numbers. Use the following form. Note that the issue number is not italicized.

    Wills, M. R.; Savory, J. Lancet 1983, No. 2, 29.

  • Pagination
    The complete page range is preferable. In page spans, use all digits, closed up, with no commas or spaces. (Note that the en dash “–” is used to indicate a closed range of values. Be careful to distinguish between the en dash “–” and the hyphen “-”, which is smaller.)

Books without editors

Author 1; Author 2; Author 3; etc. Chapter Title. Book Title, Edition Number; Series Information (if any); Publisher: Place of Publication, Year; Volume Number, Pagination.

Author 1; Author 2; Author 3; etc. Book Title; Series Information (if any); Publisher: Place of Publication, Year; Volume Number, Pagination.

  • When a book has authors and no editors, it means either that the entire book was written by one author or that two or more authors collaborated on the entire book.

    Morris, R. The Last Sorcerers: The Path from Alchemy to the Periodic Table; Joseph Henry Press: Washington, DC, 2003; pp 145–158.

    Le Couteur, P.; Burreson, J. Napoleon’s Buttons: How 17 Molecules Changed History; Jeremy P. Tarcher/Putnam: New York, 2003; pp 32–47.

  • Edition Number
    The edition number (in ordinal form) and the abbreviation “ed.” follow the book title, set off by an italic comma; they are set in roman type. The edition information is separated from the next field of the reference by a semicolon.

    Reagent Chemicals, 10th ed.;

  • Pagination
    If the book as a whole is the reference, page numbers need not be given.
    If you are citing a chapter, the complete page range is best.
    Pagination information is set in roman type and ends with a period, except when miscellaneous information follows it, in which case it should end with a semicolon. Use the abbreviations “p” and “pp” to indicate single and multiple pages, respectively.

Books with editors

Author 1; Author 2; Author 3; etc. Chapter Title. In Book Title, Edition Number; Editor 1, Editor 2, etc., Eds.; Series Information (if any); Publisher: Place of Publication, Year; Volume Number, Pagination.

Author 1; Author 2; Author 3; etc. In Book Title, Edition Number; Editor 1, Editor 2, etc., Eds.; Series Information (if any); Publisher: Place of Publication, Year; Volume Number, Pagination.

  • When a book has editors, it means that different authors wrote various parts of the book independently of each other. The word “In” before the book title indicates that the authors mentioned wrote only a part of the book, not the entire book.

    Almlof, J.; Gropen, O. Relativistic Effects in Chemistry. In Reviews in Computational Chemistry; Lipkowitz, K. B., Boyd, D. B., Eds.; VCH: New York, 1996; Vol. 8, pp 206–210.

    Holbrey, J. D.; Chen, J.; Turner, M. B.; Swatloski, R. P.; Spear, S. K.; Rogers, R. D. Applying Ionic Liquids for Controlled Processing of Polymer Materials. In Ionic Liquids in Polymer Systems: Solvents, Additives, and Novel Applications; Brazel, C. S., Rogers, R. D., Eds.; ACS Symposium Series 913; American Chemical Society: Washington, DC, 2005; pp 71–88.

  • If the book as a whole is being referenced, the author names might not appear.

    Ionic Liquids in Polymer Systems: Solvents, Additives, and Novel Applications; Brazel, C. S., Rogers, R. D., Eds.; ACS Symposium Series 913; American Chemical Society: Washington, DC, 2005.

Theses

Author. Title of Thesis. Level of Thesis, Degree-Granting University, Location of University, Date of Completion.

References to theses should be as specific as practical, including, at a minimum, the degree-granting institution and date.

Chandrakanth, J. S. Effects of Ozone on the Colloidal Stability of Particles Coated with Natural Organic Matter. Ph.D. Dissertation, University of Colorado, Boulder, CO, 1994.

Mäckel, H. Capturing the Spectra of Silicon Solar Cells. Ph.D. Thesis, The Australian National University, December 2004.

Kulamer, T. M.S. Thesis, Princeton University, 2004.

Patents

Patent Owner 1; Patent Owner 2; etc. Title of Patent. Patent Number, Date.

  • The minimum data required for an acceptable citation are the name(s) of the patent owner(s), the patent number, and the date. If possible, include the title as well. Ensure that the patent stage (Patent, Patent Application, etc.) is indicated and that the pattern of the number (e.g., spaces, commas, dashes) follows that of the original patent document.

    Sheem, S. K. Low-Cost Fiber Optic Pressure Sensor. U.S. Patent 6,738,537, May 18, 2004.

    Lenssen, K. C.; Jantscheff, P.; Kiedrowski, G.; Massing, U. Cationic Lipids with Serine Backbone for Transfecting Biological Molecules. Eur. Pat. Appl. 1457483, 2004.

    Petrovick, P. R.; Carlini, E. Antiulcerogenic Preparation from Maytenus ilicifolia and Obtaintion Process. Br. Patent PI 994502, March 6, 1999.

  • If possible, include the Chemical Abstracts reference (preceded by a semicolon) as well.

    Langhals, H.; Wetzel, F. Perylene Pigments with Metallic Effects. Ger. Offen. DE 10357978.8, Dec 11, 2003; Chem. Abstr. 2005, 143, 134834.

Online encyclopedias*

Article Title. Encyclopedia Title, edition [Online]; Publisher, Posted Online Posting Date. URL (accessed Month Day, Year).

  • Reference works published online are often updated with new content, and the dates on which sections were posted or updated should also be included.

    Alkanolamines from Nitro Alcohols. Kirk-Othmer Encyclopedia of Chemical Technology [Online]; Wiley & Sons, Posted March 14, 2003. http://www.mrw.interscience.wiley.com/kirk/articles/alkaboll.a01/frame.html (accessed Nov 7, 2004).

General web sites

Author (if any). Title of Site. URL (accessed Month Day, Year), other identifying information (if any).


* Remarks (not taken from the ACS Style Guide)

Some online encyclopedias are often updated with new content; therefore, it may be useful to use a permanent link, which leads to the text as it was at the time. Wikipedia offers a “Cite this page” tool that automatically creates references in various styles, for example: https://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?title=Special:CiteThisPage&page=Benzene&id=751982820 (see also Citing Wikipedia), which can be easily adapted to the above-mentioned style.

Benzene. Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia [Online]; Posted November 28, 2016. https://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?title=Benzene&oldid=751982820 (accessed Nov 28, 2016).

However, note that Wikipedia is not considered a reliable source.

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  • $\begingroup$ What about linking to a DOI resolver for periodicals? Where in the citation do I add it? Most people add it after the citation, but I think this should be mentioned here, shouldn't it? $\endgroup$ – Gaurang Tandon Apr 25 '18 at 5:48
  • $\begingroup$ Also, a bit more elaboration could be useful on how exactly to insert these citations into the post. For example, most people insert it as a list at the end of their post. However, the style is inconsistent (also read). Some use [1], others (1), and others use the markdown list. Moreover, inside the post, some refer to their citation as <sup>1</sup>, others \[1], others [ref. 1], and more. Some instead directly embed the full citation inside their post at the point where it's required. $\endgroup$ – Gaurang Tandon Apr 25 '18 at 5:53
  • $\begingroup$ Given all these inconsistencies, I feel we could be helped by having a recommended style of inserting citations as well. Thoughts? $\endgroup$ – Gaurang Tandon Apr 25 '18 at 5:54
  • $\begingroup$ One thing more, finally, how do I cite a "Literature seminar" article? (example) $\endgroup$ – Gaurang Tandon Apr 25 '18 at 6:17
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    $\begingroup$ How do I cite Springer chapters - for example link.springer.com/chapter/10.1007%2F0-306-48639-3_12 ? They don't even have any authors. $\endgroup$ – Gaurang Tandon May 4 '18 at 2:04

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