The first evidence of writing traces back to Sumeria over 4,000 years ago. What started as a way to record the transaction of goods across trade routes, writing has evolved into the complex system that we know of today. Crucial developments in science and society depend on the documentation and communication of ideas across time and space. As an academic, it is important to properly reference and credit the ideas and information that your thesis will be founded upon.
Citation Indexing is the process of identifying and documenting the source of information from other authors in your own written work. This is important because students, researchers, and academics are frequently building off the research of others. A botanist writing on plant life in the Amazon Rainforest will need to cite academic journals on weather patterns in South America and their impact on soil conditions.
Providing citations has four key benefits:
Prior to the 1950s, most indexing was done manually by independent subject specialists. This required specialists who understood the terminologies to go through articles, journals, and academic papers and document any citations. This was a time-consuming and tedious effort prone to human errors.
After World War II, the US federal government injected millions of dollars into research and development. Traditional methods of indexing were slow and inefficient, such that subject specialists struggled to keep up with the increasing volume of research. Researchers complained of the processing time, specifically the bottleneck caused by manual citation indexing. Also, the independent nature of the subject specialists gave rise to inconsistent terminology across different fields of research which made it difficult to connect information.
These challenges inspired organizations to create their own guidelines. Today, there are more than 9,000 different citation styles, but three are the most commonly used:
Each citation style has its own rules and guidelines. However, there are only two options on how citations should be formatted — Vancouver or Parenthetical. The Vancouver system uses numbers in brackets or subscripts to identify the citation. The reader then finds the corresponding number in the footnote or endnotes for the full citation. With the Parenthetical system, the citation is added in parentheses within the body of the text directly after the information cited.
There are pros and cons to each system. The Vancouver system is inconspicuous but requires the reader to search for the citation within the book or paper. The Parenthetical system makes the information easier to find but it takes up a lot of space on the page and can be distracting to the reader, especially if the paper is citation-heavy.
Regardless, a citation must provide enough information to accurately and easily direct the reader back to the original source. For example, when referencing a scientific article, you should include the name of the journal, article, author, time of publication, and page numbers.
Petal’s innovative platform makes importing, exporting, creating and managing citations easy. Its collaboration support allows teams to work together seamlessly. The automatic reference identification and citation management features help users organize important journals, articles, and files. The tool centralizes your research team’s entire document library. Petal is cloud-native, so you never have to worry about being out of sync across multiple devices. Sign up for Petal for free today and experience oen of the best research tools on the internet.