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CHEM 195: Research Practices in Chemistry

Tutorial on understanding the chemical literature for CHEM 195

Citation Management Software

Save time and cite properly!

Citation management programs are like EasyBib or NoodleTools on steroids and allow you to easily collect, manage, and organize your citations and work with databases (and often Word or other word processors), making it easy to import references and incorporate them into your writing, properly formatted in the style of your choice. 

From the programs that W&M Libraries support, you can use Refworks, Zotero, and Mendeley.

  • RefWorks is paid for by W&M Libraries.
  • Zotero and Mendeley are free and open source programs, and W&M Libraries pays for unlimited data storage for Zotero.

Citing your sources in ACS format

To cite the articles you’ve found, in chemistry you’ll mostly likely be using some version of the American Chemical Society (ACS) citation format. Different citation styles are used depending on the subject area you’re in, and different journals also often have specific formats they require for publication. American Psychological Association (APA) style is often used in the social sciences and sciences as well. What’s the difference? Let’s look at this online journal article citation in both formats.

APA style:

Dessent, C. E. H., Dawood, R. A., Jones, L. C., Matharu, A. S., Smith, D. K., & Uleanya, K. O. (2022). Decolonizing the Undergraduate Chemistry Curriculum: An Account of How to Start. Journal of Chemical Education, 99(1), 5–9.

ACS style:

  1. Dessent, C. E. H.; Dawood, R. A.; Jones, L. C.; Matharu, A. S.; Smith, D. K.; Uleanya, K. O. Decolonizing the Undergraduate Chemistry Curriculum: An Account of How to Start. J. Chem. Educ.2022, 99 (1), 5–9.

Besides punctuation, you’ll notice that the order of the citation is different and that ACS format uses a journal abbreviation (which you can find by searching the Chemical Abstracts Service Source Index) and depending on what kind of in-text citation you’re using, you may have numbered references. For more information on the reference formats for different type of publications, see the ACS Style Quick Guide (see this section for style conventions for listing complete reference citations and the rest of this chapter for citing references within a manuscript.)

Citation and Data Management

You’ll also want to manage your information (both citations and data), not only to make tracking and properly citing what you’ve found easier for you but also to be able to share in a team environment. If you are working with others, organization becomes even more critical for transparency and reproducibility.

Though you can manually cite your articles, the best and easiest way to keep yourself organized and cite properly is to use a citation management tool. You can see a list of the citation managers we support and choose the one that meets your needs. For more help with this, make an appointment with a librarian. Note that no automatic citation tool is error-free; you’ll always want to proofread your citations, but it does give you a head start.

Additionally, you may already have your own research log or an electronic lab notebook or, if you are working in a lab, your PI might have their own data management procedures but if not, you’ll want to consider how you are organizing your data at the beginning of your project.

Other Resources (optional) - Getting full text and citing in ACS format

Other Resources (optional) - Open Science and Data Management

For more information about data management and open science, the movement for more rigorous and transparent science, see the following links.