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Citation Styles for the Sciences

Citation Style Guide for the Sciences

This guide will assist with selecting and correctly using a citation style while writing papers in scientific disciplines. There are many different styles to choose from when writing a paper, but many fields of study prefer a particular one. If you are unsure which style to use, check with your instructor.

Citations and Citation Styles

A citation is a reference to a source you used to support your research. Citations give credit to the original author(s) and can be used to locate particular sources and avoid plagiarism.

A citation style dictates the information necessary for a citation and how the information is ordered, as well as punctuation and other formatting.

Choosing a Citation Style

This guide includes information on commonly used citation styles used in the sciences:

Avoiding Plagarism

Plagiarism is the act of taking someone else's words or ideas and using them as your own. Often, students will plagiarize unintentionally. To avoid plagiarizing:

  • Make sure you get all the citation information you need when you originally find the source.
  • Learn how to paraphrase properly.


If you gathered the information or ideas from another source, even if you used your own words, you must cite that source.

Tips for paraphrasing sources:

  • Try to understand the passage as a whole, rather than pausing to write down specific ideas or phrases.
  • Be selective in what you paraphrase. Only summarize the material that is most valuable to your paper.
  • Think of what your own words would be if you were describing the passage.
  • Look away from the source then write. Read the passage several times until you feel that you understand it and can restate it in your own words. Then, look away from the original text and rewrite it in your own words.
  • Take notes in your own words. Set the notes aside and then paraphrase from the notes later.