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CSE documentation style

Each academic discipline has its own expectations for style and documentation. Often, these disciplines rely on a broad system of guidelines that are determined by professional organizations in the field. In the natural and physical sciences as well as mathematics, the standard style is CSE (Council of Science Editors, also called the Council of Biology Editors). Scientific Style and Format: The CSE Manual for Authors, Editors, and Publishers (7th edition) contains complete information about documentation in the sciences.

CSE permits three distinct systems for in-text citations.

Those systems are the name-year system, the citation-sequence system, and the citation-name system. In classes, students should check to see which system the instructor prefers. For publication, writers should preview the journal to which they are submitting. No matter what system a writer uses, all CSE-style texts require a references list and in-text citations. Below is a table summarizing key differences among the three CSE systems.

 

name-year

citation-sequence

citation-name

references list

• organize using alphabetical order of authors by last name (or by title if no last name available)

do not number the entries in the list

• organize using the sequential order in which each source first appears in the text

number each entry to match the sequential order in which that source first appears in the text

• organize using alphabetical order of authors by last name (or by title if no last name available)

number each entry in this list of references—the numbers will match the alphabetical order of the list

 

in-text citations

do not use superscript numbers

• use the last name of the author plus the year of publication in parenthetical citations

use superscript numbers

• use the number assigned to the source in the references list every time you refer to the source

use superscript numbers

• use the number assigned to the source in the references list every time you refer to the source

 

In-text citations

In-text-citations are formatted differently in each citation system.

Name-year system

Authors are identified by name (either in the main text or in parentheses), and the date of the study is given. When multiple references are listed in one parenthetical citation, they are arranged chronologically starting with the earliest date.

In the thorough study by Browne, it was determined that this method was not feasible (2001).

Future studies confirmed this finding (Wagner 2002; Williams and Hunt 2003).

Citation-sequence system

Each in-text citation is followed by a superscript number based on where the source first appears in the text. For example, if the first reference in a citation-sequence system paper were to an article by Browne, the reference would be labeled this way:

In the thorough study by Browne1, it was determined that this method was not feasible.

Thereafter, each time the Browne article was cited, it would be labeled with a superscript 1. Subsequent sources would be labeled 2, 3, 4, etc.

Citation-name system

Each in-text citation is followed by a superscript number based on where the source appears in the alphabetical references list. For example, in a citation-name system paper relying on sources by Vang, by Browne, and by Abdi, those three sources would be arranged in the reference list alphabetically by author’s last name, and each source would have its own corresponding number assigned in that list: 1. Abdi; 2. Browne; 3. Vang.

Even if the first reference in that paper were to an article by Browne, the in-text citation would be labeled with a superscript 2 because Browne is the second entry in the alphabetical reference list:

In the thorough study by Browne2, it was determined that this method was not feasible.

Thereafter, each time the Browne article was cited, it would be labeled with a superscript 2. Other sources would always be labeled according to their order in the references list (i.e., Abdi1, Vang3).

 

References list: dates

The placement of dates in the references list depends on the citation system.

Name-year system

Place the date immediately after the author’s name. Follow the date with a period.

Citation-sequence and citation-name systems

For books, place the date after the publisher’s name; for articles, place the date after the journal name.

 

References list: other features

Other features of the references page are uniform across all three citation systems. Here are a few common features to note; consult the resources below for a comprehensive list.

  • Author names are listed as last name and first initial (no comma after last name).
  • Book and journal titles are not underlined or italicized; article titles are not placed in quotation marks.
  • In book and article entries, only the first word of the title (and any proper noun) is capitalized; for journal entries, capitalize all words of the journal title.
  • In book entries, the number of pages in the book is listed in brackets.
  • In web entries, the number or approximate number of pages, screens, paragraphs, lines, or bytes is listed in brackets.
     

Examples

For examples of CSE-style references pages and citation formats for specific types of sources, please consult the following resources.

Hacker D, Fister B. Research and Documentation Online [Internet]. Boston: Bedford/St. Martin’s. The sciences; [cited 2012 July 13]; [about 47 screens]. Available from: http://bcs.bedfordstmartins.com/resdoc5e/RES5e_ch07_o.html

Scientific style and format: the CSE manual for authors, editors, and publishers. 7th ed. Reston (VA): Rockefeller University Press; 2006.