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NFS 4943: Trends & Controversies in NFS


There are a variety of resources and tools to help you cite quickly and correctly. Automatic citation tools can get you started, while citation manuals can help you ensure that the automatic citations are correct.

Identify Citation Information


The author(s) of an article are usually listed right below or near the article title.

In a database (PubMed)

In the article PDF

Publication Date

The publication date is when the article was published and made available for people to read. It is not the "submission date" or "acceptance date." Most articles go through the process of submission, acceptance, then publication.

If you see multiple dates listed, write down the most recent date listed.

In a database (Science Direct)

In the article PDF

Article Title

The article title is usually near the author name(s). Article titles tend to be long: six or more words.

In a database (Web of Science)


In the article PDF

Journal Title

In the database where you found the article, the journal title is usually listed near the volume number, issue number, and page range. Journal titles tend to be short--six words or less--but can be longer than that.

In a database (ScienceDirect)


In the article PDF

Journal Volume

If a journal were a TV show, then the journal volume is like the season number of a TV show. Most journals have only one volume per year. The volume number is typically listed right after the journal title, although it may occasionally appear right after the date of publication.

In a database (PubMed)


In the article PDF

Journal Issue Number

If the journal volume is like the season of a TV show, then a journal issue is like an episode in the season. Most journals publish 4-12 issues per year, though some may publish only one or two issues per year.

The journal issue number is usually listed right after the journal volume number and is usually within parentheses in scientific/medical citation styles.

In a database (ScienceDirect)

Note: This example does not have an issue number. Supplement 1 is written where the issue normally would be, but it is not actually an issue of the journal. Issues are normal publications, while supplements are like bonus publications. Using the TV show analogy: a journal supplement is like a bonus episode. The manual for the citation style you're using will explain how to cite a journal supplement.


In the article PDF

Note: Because this example is a supplement, not an issue of the journal, no issue is listed on the PDF. Occasionally, you won't be able to find the issue number of the PDF itself but can find it in the database where you found the article. Sometimes, there is no issue number at all! When a journal is only published once per year, it usually doesn't have an issue number.

Continuing the TV show analogy, if you wanted a friend to watch a certain clip in an episode, you'd probably tell her when the clip begins. The page range indicates where in a journal issue the article you're citing begins and ends.

Note: Because many articles are published only online, they may not have a page range. Instead, they may have an article identification number. An example of this type of article is located at the bottom of this section.

In a database (PubMed)


In the article PDF

Example: Article with no page range (from PubMed)

Because this article has no page range, put its identification number where the page range would normally be in your citation.

Article title: Choice architecture interventions to improve diet and/or dietary behavior by healthcare staff in high-income countries: a systematic review

Authors: Al-Khudairy L, Uthman OA, Walmsley R, Johnson S, Oyebode O

Journal title: BMJ Open

Publication year: 2019

Journal volume: 9

Journal issue: 1

Page range: e023687

Citation Management Tools

Citation management tools are excellent for:

  • Collecting and organizing your references.
  • Generating an automatic references list/bibliography that you can insert at the end of your paper. These tend to have errors, so you still need to know what a correct citation looks like.

Some citation management tools have an ad-on for Word that allow you to create automatic in-text citations--super helpful if you're using a numbered citation style like AMA or JAND!

Word of caution: Speak with a librarian before using any automatic citation tools for a project lasting longer than one semester. As you update your computer software, apps, and computer operating system, your automatic citations can experience critical technical errors that may not be possible to fix.