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Chemistry: Citing Sources in Chemistry

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Citing Sources

College Policy on Citing Sources & Plagiarism

It is necessary for you to give proper credit to all of the resources you use in your research papers. Plagiarism is a violation of Dickinson's Student Code of Conduct, and is a specific form of cheating defined in the code as follows:

1) To plagiarize is to use without proper citation or acknowledgment the words, ideas, or work of another. Whenever one relies on someone else for phraseology, even for only two or three words, one must acknowledge indebtedness by using quotation marks and giving the source, either in the text or in a footnote.

2) When one includes information that is not a matter of general knowledge, including all statistics and translations, one must indicate one's indebtedness in the text or footnote. When one borrows an idea or the logic of an argument, one must acknowledge indebtedness either in a footnote or in the text. When in doubt, footnote. (Academic Standards Committee, November, 1965) You should include appropriate citations in all of your research. Your professor will direct you as to what specific citation style they may prefer.

How to Cite

In addition to the examples below, see the new online-only style guide:

ACS Guide to Scholarly Communication
call number for the print edition: REF QD8.5 .A25 1997
One copy on Reserve, one copy located in the Reference Stacks, library main level.

In chemistry, the references are used in a paper may be presented in a number of formats, so always ask what your professor requires. ACS Style is used by the American Chemical Society:

Journal article citation elements for ACS Style:

Author one surname, first and middle initials; author 2 name, initials. Standard Abbreviation for Journal Title in Italics. Year in bold, Volume number in italics, first page-last page.

  • List all authors using last names and initials.

For example:

1) online journal article (the S after the page numbers is because this specific article was in a supplement to the main journal)

Pegorier, J.; Le May, C.; Girard, J. J. Nutr. [online] 2004, 134, 2444S-2449S.

2) print journal article

Boehme, C.; Marx, D. J. Am. Chem. Soc. 2003, 125, 13362-13363.

When a quotation or idea needs to be cited within the text of the paper, an italicized number corresponding to the appropriate source in the enumerated list is included within the sentence, in parentheses and italicized, immediately following the phrase that requires credit, like so: "...quotation from article" (2).


Book citation elements for ACS Style:

Author (or editor), book title, date of publication, publisher, and place of publication. 


1) Book with two authors

Beall, H.; Trimbur, J. A Short Guide to Writing about Chemistry, 2nd ed.; Longman: New York, 2001. 

2) Chapter in an edited book (italicize the title of the edited volume, not the chapter title, and include page numbers for the chapter being cited)

McBrien, M. Selecting the Correct pH Value for HPLC. In HPLC Made to Measure: A Practical Handbook for Optimization; Kromidas, S., Ed.; Wiley-VCH: Weinheim, Germany, 2006; pp 89-103.


Website citation elements for ACS Style:

Author (if known), title of the website, URL, date of access. 


1) Website with no listed author:

Penn State Department of Chemistry. (accessed June 7, 2010).

2) Website with author:

U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. (accessed Nov 15, 2004). 


The University of Wisconsin - Madison Chemistry Library has a nice online guide to citing in ACS Style with many more examples.

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