Identifying Scientific Citations: A Primer

Researchers in science communicate new discoveries, express ideas, support theories, and measure success through publication. Citations and references within scientific writing set the tone and frame the impact of the presented research by placing it within the context of prior research. Citations are included in original research papers for three main reasons:

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  • to build an argument
  • to give credit to research done by others
  • to direct readers to further information

The standard layout of scientific papers is designed to highlight contextual understanding and transparency. Understanding how and when authors include citations and references when sharing original research is a key aspect to understanding the impact of the presented data. Equally as important is understanding why and how to include references and citations when writing, in order to effectively add to the dialogue of continuing research and scientific understanding.

Recognizing citation misconduct and understanding appropriate ways to incorporate the work of others are key to participating in science. The following module instructs readers and writers of scientific literature about the rationale behind scientific reference and citation.

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