How To Record Academic & Scientific References for Difficult Sources

Producing Complete Bibliographical References for Less Common Sources
Most scholars have cited books and journal articles so many times that they are well aware of the various bits of information required for complete bibliographical references to these common sources. When it comes to less common sources, however, such as unpublished conference papers and audiovisual resources, many scholarly authors are unsure how to proceed, and even the detailed author instructions offered by journals and other publishers often provide very few guidelines or remain frustratingly silent when it comes to unusual sources. A few pointers for recording such sources may therefore prove helpful.

If a conference paper or any sort of presentation has been published in a collection of conference proceedings or a similar monograph, the reference for the paper is usually recorded in the same way as a reference for a chapter or essay in a book would be, or, occasionally, as an article in a journal would be, citing the relevant page numbers in either case and sometimes including details about the conference itself (the date and location of the event, for example). When unpublished conference papers are cited, however, the author’s name and the title of the paper should be accompanied by the name of the conference, its location and date, and any other helpful or relevant information about the event.
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Although often treated like book titles, the titles of theses and dissertations can use the format of either book or article titles (set in either italic font or quotation marks with full or partial capitalisation and so on), or a format that differs slightly from both. Instead of the publication information provided for books, the type of degree, the university where it was earned and the date on which the thesis or dissertation was completed should be supplied. Sometimes the department that granted the degree should be included as well.

When constructing references for CDs, DVDs, works of art, slides and other audiovisual sources, a range of relevant information can be provided: the names of artists, directors and producers; the titles of songs, CDs, paintings and television programmes; and the publishers and places and dates of publication. The names of those responsible for creating the source should be treated as author and editor names are for other sources. Titles should use the formats used for the titles of articles and books, with the title of an individual song or episode of a television programme, for instance, using the format used for article titles, while the title of the CD or the television programme uses the format adopted for the titles of books.

As a fairly recent addition to bibliographical lists, references to web sites, web pages and online documents tend to vary more than other references, and the myriad forms of web sources increase this variation. Author names (both individual and corporate) should be included if available, as should the titles of web sites, web pages and individual documents, often in combination with each other, depending on which elements may be relevant to your use of the source and/or required by the guidelines you are following. Publisher, version and update information can be provided, and at least one date (in some cases more than one) should be included, whether it is the date of publication, the most recent update of the web site or the latest date on which you accessed the source. These dates tend to be given in full (day, month and year) rather than as years only. Either a URL or, in the case of some independent web documents, a DOI is usually provided. As a general rule, the information provided for web sites and the like should be as thorough and specific as required to document the source accurately and successfully lead the reader to it. Remember that web-based resources often undergo frequent changes, so all such sources should be checked before you submit your article to ensure that the information you have recorded is still valid.

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