There are plenty of citation styles you can use for research papers but do you actually know which ones are used specifically in the science field? In order to ease your way into your paper, we compiled a list of the main citation styles used for science. Each style includes an explanation of its system, just like reference examples.
APA (American Psychological Association) style is a citation format used primarily in the social sciences, education and engineering. The citing system of APA consists of two elements: in-text citations and a reference list. This system is known as an author-date style, which refers to giving the author’s last name and year of publication as an in-text citation (e.g. Smith 2003). These in-text citations refer the reader to a list at the end of the paper, which includes information about each source used in the paper.
Check out these APA style resources
APA style examples
An in-text citation in APA 7th style:
In recent years, much debate has been stirred regarding volcanic soil (Avşar et al., 2018).
A bibliography entry in APA 7th style:
Avşar, E., Ulusay, R., Aydan, Ö., & Mutlutürk, M. (2015). On the Difficulties of Geotechnical Sampling and practical Estimates of the Strength of a weakly bonded Volcanic Soil. Bulletin of Engineering Geology and the Environment, 74(4), 1375–1394. https://doi.org/10.1007/s10064-014-0710-9
Chicago style is another form of citation widely used for science. Its system is a bit more complex than other styles, as it offers two types of format: a notes and bibliography system, and an author-date system. The notes and bibliography system is mostly used for the humanities, whereas the author-date system is used in science. As mentioned before an author-date system is composed by in-text citations that match a reference list at the end of the paper.
Check out these Chicago style resources
Chicago style examples
An in-text citation in Chicago style:
However, a research proved this theory right (Hofman and Rick 2018, 65-115).
A bibliography entry in Chicago style:
Hofman, Courtney A., and Torben C. Rick. “Ancient Biological Invasions and Island Ecosystems: Tracking Translocations of Wild Plants and Animals.” Journal of Archaeological Research 26, no. 1 (2018): 65–115. doi.org/10.1007/s10814-017-9105-3.
CSE (Council of Science Editors) style is is the standard format used in the physical and life sciences. This style offers three types of citation systems: citation-sequence, name-year, and citation-name.
• Name-Year: In-text citation of the author’s last name and the year of publication in brackets, and a bibliography at the end listing all references in full.
• Citation-Sequence: Every source is assigned a superscript number that is used as an in-text reference. The bibliography at the end lists all numbers with their reference in the order in which they appeared in the text.
• Citation-Name: The reference list is organized alphabetically by authors last names; each name is assigned a number which can be placed in superscript as an in-text reference.
Check out these CSE style resources
CSE style examples
An in-text citation in CSE name-year style:
Therefore, the translocation of wild plants was tracked (Hofman and Rick 2018).
A bibliography entry in CSE name-year style:
Hofman CA, Rick TC. 2018. Ancient Biological Invasions and Island Ecosystems: Tracking Translocations of Wild Plants and Animals. J. Archaeol. [accessed 2019 Mar 11]; 26(1): 65–11. doi.org/10.1007/s10814-017-9105-3.
AIP (American Institute of Physics) style, as its title suggests, is commonly applied in physics and astronomy papers. This style has a numbered citation system, which uses superscript numbers to show in-text citations. These numbers are then found in a list at the end of the paper.
Check out these AIP style resources
AIP style examples
An in-text citation in AIP style:
A similar study was carried out in 2015¹.
A bibliography entry in AIP style:
¹ H.D. Young and R.A. Freedman, Sears & Zemansky's University Physics (Addison-Wesley, San Francisco, CA, 2015) p. 160
ACS (American Chemical Society) style is the standard citation style for chemistry. This style uses both numbered and author-date citations systems. The numbered in-text citations can have either a superscript or a number in italics, while the author-date uses the author's last name and date of publication. Both systems reference to a list of sources at the end.
Check out these ACS style resources
ACS style examples
An in-text citation in ACS author-date style:
The opposing side was given first (Brown et al., 2017).
A bibliography entry in ACS author-date style:
Brown, T.E.; LeMay H.E.; Bursten, B.E.; Murphy, C.; Woodward, P.; Stoltzfus M.E. Chemistry: The Central Science in SI Units. Pearson: New York, 2017.
IEEE (Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers) style is based on the Chicago citation style and is used specifically for engineering and science papers. This style uses a numbered citation format, in which a number in square brackets is given as an in-text citation. This number corresponds to a reference list entry at the end of the paper.
Check out these IEEE style resources
IEEE style examples
An in-text citation in IEEE style:
As seen in a multi-camera study ...
A bibliography entry in IEEE style:
 E. Nuger and B. Benhabib, “Multi-Camera Active-Vision for Markerless Shape Recovery of Unknown Deforming Objects,” J. Intell. Rob. Syst., vol. 92, no. 2, pp. 223–264, Oct. 2018.
Frequently Asked Questions about citation styles used in science
🧫 What is the most frequently used citation style used in science?
The most frequently used citation style used in science is APA (American Psychological Association) style, a citation format used primarily in the social sciences, education and engineering.
🔬 What citation system is the best to use for science?
There are two types of citation systems you can use are: author-date or numeric (among other variations of these). Both types are easy to adopt; it all comes down to what system you are most familiar with, or which one you find easier to use. However, numeric citation styles tend to be more practical and straightforward.
💾 Do you have to add a bibliography in science papers?
Yes, you have to add a bibliography or reference list citing all sources mentioned in your scientific paper. Every in-text citation should be given in full at the end of your paper to provide the reader with enough details.
📊 What are the most known science journals?
📇 How do you format a title page for a science paper?
Title pages for science papers have to follow the format of the citation style you decide to use. For example, in APA 7th style you need a title, author's name and affiliation, author note, running head, and a page number. So make sure to check the title page format of the citation style you use.