PubMed: Anatomy of a Citation

Guide to searching PubMed

What is a Citation?

Citations are what you find in databases and bibliographies. They provide the reader with all of the information needed to identify and find the source of information.

Citing references, or the sources of information used in research, is critical for a number of reasons. Most importantly, writers have an ethical responsibility to indicate when they have used someone else's ideas or words.

Citing references also:

  • strengthens the authoritativeness of your work;
  • shows you've incorporated other scholarly research into your work;
  • records the sources you've used in your research;
  • provides the reader with valuable information, indicating where to go to find further information;
  • extends professional honesty and courtesy.

When citing a reference or compiling a bibliography, there are many style choices. Check with your professor to see which style (AMA, MLA, etc.) you should use.

Refer to this page for more specialized information on citation styles.

Image source:  Reasonist.  Used with permission.

What's in a Citation?

A citation describes a source by providing information about that source (book, article, web page, etc.) in a standard format.  It tells:

  • What was written - the title
  • Who wrote it - the author and/or editor
  • When it was published - the date of book, article or web page
  • Where it was published and by whom - the publisher and city; the journal name; or the host of the web page

 

Article Citation Example

 

 

Book Citation Example

 

Book Chapter Citation Example