Skip to Main Content
It looks like you're using Internet Explorer 11 or older. This website works best with modern browsers such as the latest versions of Chrome, Firefox, Safari, and Edge. If you continue with this browser, you may see unexpected results.

Critical Thinking in Environmental Science: Citing Sources

Why Cite?

We cite sources for several reasons:

  • To prove our information came from a credible source
  • To place our work in the context of others' 
  • To distinguish our work and ideas from others'
  • To give enough detail for others to consult our sources

Anatomy of an citation

To cite your references properly, you must track the following information for all your resources:

Padilla, PB, & Nogales M (2009). Behavior of Kestrels Feeding on Frugivorious Lizards: Implications for Food Dispersal. Behavioral Ecology, 20(4), 872-877

  • Author(s)
  • Year
  • Article Title
  • Journal Title
  • Volume & Issue
  • Pages

The Citation Management guide describes several software tools you may use.

Google Scholar

Use Google Scholar instead of Google! It indexes core society and commercial journals, sci-tech reports, and some academic websites.

In Google Scholar, link to UF's subscribed journals through Findit@UF. Click on Settings then (in the left column) Library Links, then type University of Florida and select "University of Florida (Find it@UF)". If you are on campus or using the VPN or library proxy you will get links from Scholar into the full text of library-subscribed journals. This preference is set for the browser software on that computer.

Criteria for Evaluating a Resource

When evaluating a resource, whether it is print or internet-based, there are questions  use these questions to determine if it is high quality and a good match for your project or paper:

  • Authority
    Who created the resource? Are the author, organization, affiliations, and publisher clearly shown? If the page is web-based does it link to information about the organization? Do the author have credentials or expertise in the subject matter? Is the resource from a government agency, university, company, non-profit organization?

  • Accuracy
    Is the information contained in the source properly cited? Is there a bibliography or reference list? Can you verify the information in other sources? Is the information free of grammatical, spelling, and typographical errors? Are the statistical data clearly explained? Are charts and graphs properly represented and cited?

  • Objectivity
    Is the resource free of advertising, or is any advertising clearly separated from the content? Is there any bias? Is the sponsoring organization biased or motivated to report facts from a particular perspective?

  • Currency
    When was the information gathered? When was the resource created? When was it updated/ revised? Is it kept current? Is currency critical to your topic?

  • Coverage
    Is the information complete? Does it cover the subject in depth? Does it match your information needs?

These criteria were adapted from a worksheet used by the Widener Science Library.

RefWorks Citation/Bibliography Creation Software

RefWorks can save you hours of time. This citation management software can store all your articles and reformat them to meet any citation style. As you search the library catalog, databases and other online resources, mark items of interest and upload their citations to RefWorks.

RefWorks will generate bibliographies in BibTeX, HTML, Word, or Open Office format.

See more details on the RefWorks guide.

How do I avoid plagiarism?

Q. How do I avoid plagiarism?

A. Properly cite your sources. As you collect information for your project or paper clearly note where your ideas are coming from. When you read books and articles, paraphrase the ideas in your own words to prove that you understand the concepts.

Follow the 26 Guidelines at a Glance on Avoiding Plagiarism from the U.S. Office of Research Integrity.

Play our game about scientific research ethics here to learn more about the complex issues surrounding plagiarism, data fabrication, and data falsification in the sciences.

To learn more, check out our Guide to Responsible Conduct of Resources in the Sciences.

University of Florida Home Page

This page uses Google Analytics - (Google Privacy Policy)

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License.