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Undergraduate Research Programs: Library Research Guide

Introduction to Citing Sources

You need to acknowledge the  sources you used in your research, whether you are quoting or paraphrasing them. By citing the specific document, medium, or other form of communication, you indicate who originally made the contribution AND you allow your reader to find that contribution from which s/he may make their own judgment.  Failure to provide appropriate attribution is considered plagiarism.

Citation Elements

Citations need to be both consistent, so the reader can recognize what the item is (book, journal article, film, government document, etc.), and complete, so the reader can find the item. 

Citations typically include the following elements : 

  • Author
  • Title
  • Date of Publication
  • Source (publisher, agency, etc.)
  • Location (for books the location would the city of the publisher; for journal articles it would be the volume, issue and pages; for items only published online this could be an URL or a DOI (digital object identifier)).

How these elements are ordered in the citation and what punctuation, spacing, and font style (italics, bold) are used depends on the citation style you are asked to use. 

Citation Styles

A citation style guide will tell you how to arrange the components of a citation for various types of documents. Check with your instructor which style guide you should use.

From writing English papers you may be familiar with the MLA style. Engineering publications use a variety of citation styles, including APA (all areas of engineering) and AMA (biomedical engineering). Once again, make sure to check with your instructor.

Guide on Citing Sources

Our online guide Citing Your Sources provides links to citation manuals and examples for APA, MLA, Chicago/Turabian, and AMA. It includes information on citing computer codes, data, film and video, images, online sources, and sound.

Citation Formatters and Citation Management Tools

Citation formatters, A.K.A. citation generators, are programs that create citations formatted in a specific style (APA, MLA, Chicago, etc.). Some of them are embedded into databases, others require that you export or enter bibliographic information.

To find a citation formatter in a database or on Google Scholar, on the results or record screen look for the "cite" link or icon. After clicking the link you will typically get a choice of several citation formats.

Warning: Please use the citation formatters with caution. Be sure to check the results for formatting, spelling, capitalization, punctuation, and the required elements for the citation style you are using.

The following free citation formatter tools below can also generate bibliographies:

More robust citation management tools available at UC are:

EndNote (for fee): A software program for publishing and managing bibliographies that you purchase and load on your computer. You can sign up for a free 30 day trial to test it. It is available for purchase at UC Bookstore.


Importing Records into Refworks from databases

Guide for importing references into Refworks:

Each database has its own unique way to import the references into a citation manager such as Endnote or Refworks.  At UC, all students and faculty have access to Refworks without charge.  You just need to create an account.   To get a better understanding of using Refworks, view the guide page about Refworks.

Examples of how to move references from databases to RefWorks:

Academic Search Complete and Web of Science:

  Academic Search Complete (An Ebsco database):

1. Conduct your search, then add items to folder.  The icon is indicated by the red circle.

2. View folder by clicking on icon on task bar at top indicated by the red circle.

3. On the right hand side of window, there will be an export icon that will give you options to export to different record/reference managers.

4. Click on the Refworks radio button to move your references into Refworks

5. Note: Uncheck the Remove these items from folder after saving option, if you want items to remain in the folder after performing the export function.

6. Click the Save button to begin the direct export.

7. Your records should appear in the Last Imported Folder.


Web of Science (A Thomas Rueters Web of Knowledge database):

For Direct Export:

Note:  The Save to RefWorks button only appears if Thomson Reuters has enabled it for your institution. Contact your local librarian for more information.

1. Select the record(s) to include in the output.

2. Select the data to include in each record from the Output Records section (step 2) that appears at the bottom of the page.


3. From the drop down menu above the displayed results, click Save to RefWorks to open the Processing Records page and to launch the export application.

4. If JavaScript is enabled on your machine, then the export process will automatically start. Do not close your browser or click the Return button until processing completes. If JavaScript is not enabled, click Export to proceed. Depending on the browser that you are using, a series of dialog boxes will appear. Follow the instructions to proceed.  Once processing is completed a new window will open with the RefWorks login screen.

5. Log into RefWorks.

6. Your records should appear in the Last Imported Folder.


Any questions? Need help?

Call or email a subject librarian in your discipline.

For brief factual questions use the Ask a Reference Question online form.

Our Online Tutorials cover many topics, from coming up with a research question to citing your sources and using various software.

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