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Biological sciences: Citing references

A guide to finding information in biological sciences. Includes links to key resources and sources of help.

Whenever you refer to another person's work in your own essay, dissertation or article you must acknowledge them and give full details of your source. You risk being accused of plagiarism if you fail to do so.

The School of Biological Sciences uses the Harvard referencing style. For examples see below.

For general information on referencing, including an explanation of different citation systems, and guidance on citing specific types of publication, see our Citing references guide.

For help with citing specific types of publication contact your subject librarian, Tim Chapman.

For advice on using references in your work, and how to use them to support your arguments, consult the guidance on the Study Advice website or make an appointment with them.


EndNote logoWhen you do your dissertation you could consider using EndNote to manage your references. This bibliographic management package can be used to store references, and then insert the citation in your Word document, automatically building the bibliography for you in the correct style.

Find out more on our EndNote webpages:

For information on other options for electronic management of your references see our guide to Managing references:

Books with advice on referencing

As well as our citing references guide there are several books in the Library that can help you with referencing in your written work - here are a few examples;

Citing the most common types of publication - School of Biological Sciences

Citing books

Elements to include in your bibliography entry

  1. Author name(s) in the format 'Surname, Initials'
  2. Year of publication (in brackets)
  3. Book title (in italics or underlined)
  4. Edition (if applicable)
  5. Place of publication followed by a colon e.g. London:
  6. Publisher.

Example: book with a single author/editor

Citation in the text:            “Fuller (2019) stated…..” or “…there are other physiological roles for platelets (Fuller, 2019).”

Full reference:     

Fuller, C. (2019) Platelets. Cambridge: Biostate Publishing.


Example: book with two authors/editors

Citation in the text:            "Fox and Moss (2020) stated..." or "... (Fox & Moss, 2020)." 

Full reference:

Fox, P.F. & Moss, P.L.H. (2020) Advanced Life Sciences Volume 1: Proteins, 2nd ed. New York: Kluwer Academic. 


Example: book with more than two authors/editors

Citation in the text:            "Lanham et al. (2017) state..." or "... (Lanham et al, 2017)

Full reference:

Lanham, S.A., MacDonald, I.A. & Roche, H.M. (eds.) (2017) Ecology and Ecosystems, 2nd ed. Chichester: Wiley-Blackwell.

Citing book chapters

Elements to include in your bibliography entry

  1. Chapter author name(s) in the format 'Surname, Initials'
  2. Year of publication (in brackets)
  3. Chapter title
  4. In:
  5. Book editor name(s) in the format 'Surname, Initials' followed by (ed.) or (eds.)
  6. Book title (in italics or underlined)
  7. Edition (if applicable)
  8. Place of publication followed by a colon e.g. London:
  9. Publisher.
  10. Page numbers.

Example: book chapter with two authors

Citation in the text:               “….. (Davis & Williams, 2021).”

Full reference:    

Davis, J.G. & Williams, R. (2021) Microbiology Explained. In: Robinson, R. (ed.) Microbiology Vol  2, 2nd ed. London: Elsevier Applied Science. pp. 45-49.   

Example: book chapter with three or more authors

Citation in the text:        “...  (Martin et al., 2018).”

Full reference:

Martin, P., Ferranti, P., Leroux, C. & Addeo, F. (2018) The Ecology of Rivers. In: Fox, P.F. & McSweeney, P.L.H. (eds.) Advanced Ecology Volume 1: 3rd ed. New York: Kluwer Academic/Plenum Publishers. pp. 126-131.

Note that all the authors are included in the bibliography.

Citing journal articles

Elements to include in your bibliography entry

  1. ALL Author name(s) in the format 'Surname, Initials'
  2. Year of publication (in brackets)
  3. Article title
  4. Journal title (in italics or underlined) - give the journal name in full, not abbreviated
  5. Volume number (in bold)*
  6. Issue number if available (in brackets)*
  7. Page numbers of the whole article (not just the ones you have used)*

DOIs, URLs and other information such as Epub identifiers should NOT be included in the bibliography.

* Note about online only articles - some articles will not have page numbers, or even volume and issue numbers if they are only available electronically. These may only give a reference number. You should include this instead at the end of your reference. See the last example below. If an article is shown as 'In press' and doesn't yet have these details, just use 'In press' instead.

Example: journal article with a single author

Citation in the text:        ... (Birch, 2015)

Full reference:   

Birch, G.G. (2015) The biology of blood. Journal of Hematology, 51, 359-364.

Example: journal article with two authors

Citation in the text:        ... (Al-Otaibi & Wilbey, 2020)

Full reference:    

Al-Otaibi, M.M. & Wilbey, R.A. (2020) Rethinking microbiology experiments. Journal of Microbiology Research, 72(2), 234-242.

Example: journal article with three or more authors

Citation in the text:        ... (Leach et al., 2019)

Full reference:

Leach, G.C., Pyle, D.L. & Niranjan, K. (2019) Recent advances in hedgerow surveying techniques. International Journal of  Ecological Surveying, 29(5), 547-558.

You must include ALL authors in the reference in the bibliography.


Example: online only journal article without page numbers

Citation in the text:        ... (Han et al., 2015)

Full reference:

Han, F., Zhou, D., Liu, X., Cheng, J., Zhang, Q. & Shelton, A.M. (2015) Attitudes to Cardio-vascular education. PLoS ONE, 10(9), e0139114.


Citing web pages or web sites

You should avoid citing webpages unless you are clear of their quality and suitability for inclusion in academic work. See the 'Websites' tab within this guide for more information on evaluating webpages.

If you are citing an online journal article - follow the guidance on citing journal article. If it has a volume number and page numbers or a single numerical identifier, it is probably a journal article.

Elements to include in your bibliography entry

  1. Author name(s) in the format 'Surname, Initials'
  2. Year information was created or last edited (in brackets)
  3. Page title (in italics)
  4. URL:
  5. Web address
  6. Date you viewed the page (in square brackets)


The citation in the text should be by author and date, as with other sources, though problems can occur where there is no obvious author (see below).     

Citation in the text:    “…..folate is naturally present in some foods, can be added to others, or taken as a supplement (Office of Dietary Supplements, 2018).”

Full reference:    

Office of Dietary Supplements (2018) Dietary supplement fact sheet: folate. URL: [6 August 2020]


Can't identify the author?

If you can identify the organisation responsible for the website, then use their name as the author e.g. World Health Organisation. If this is not possible, then use the page title or an abbreviation thereof.

Citation in the text:    “… demonstrated by the traditional Hepatitis B (2014).”

Full reference:    

Hepatitis B (2014) The treatment of Hepatitis B. URL: [9th March 2021]


Can't tell what date is was created or updated?

Look for an updated date at the foot of the page. If you can’t find one, then use the year you accessed the information followed by a question mark e.g. (2021?).

If you are citing a web site then you should retain a printed copy of that site on that day as the site can be changed without notice.