Reference Conventions

It is essential in scientific reports and essays to acknowledge the research and ideas of others. Failure to do so is considered plagiarism (or intellectual theft) and penalties may be applied.

Material that is a direct quote must be indicated by quotation marks, “    “, or by setting the material apart from the text. The quote must also be acknowledged with a reference to its source. However, quotations are rarely used in scientific papers.

Where a direct quote is not made, but information is stated which can be attributed to a particular author(s), the statement must also be acknowledged with a reference. A properly cited reference to the literature enables another person to locate it.

These notes are based on the Society for General Microbiology’s, ‘Instructions for Authors’ which provides a complete set of instructions and additional examples online at:

References are cited in the text in one of two ways.



Kathy talks about the importance of documenting information and taking notes (34s):

Jacquie explains how she found her
references (20s):

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