References and Plagiarism

When communicating your results, it’s important that you make a clear distinction between which elements are your own, original work and which are from other people. Much of chemistry is built on the knowledge gained from past work, so acknowledging where these facts and ideas came from is important.

You can read more about the University of Calgary’s policies on academic integrity here, and some interactive and Science-specific information here.

For your chemistry labs, what format you use for referencing is less important than that you use one. ACS (American Chemical Society) is an easy and common format – you can view a reference guide here and some examples below. There are also tools like Quick©ite and Zoterobib that can help you format your references.

All references cited in your lab reports should be from verifiable, publicly accessible sources. Your lab instructor (TA) must be able to access the resource you are citing to verify the information – journal articles, textbooks, laboratory technicians, and students in your lab section are examples of acceptable references. Privately-held documents, password protected websites, and persons not currently involved in your course (as examples) are not acceptable references.

Any work that is not (a) your own words or (b) a commonly known fact should have its source indicated with an in-text citation linked to an end-of-text reference (and proper denotation if it is a direct quote). “Commonly known facts” can be hard to identify. It’s always safer to include a citation, but as a general rule, if it’s a physical law or common relation (like the First Law of Thermodynamics or the Nernst Equation) you don’t need a citation. As an easy metric, if a typical high school graduate would know this information, it is probably “commonly known” and you can skip the citation – otherwise, include your source.

Some examples of formatting in the References or Works Cited section:

Reference TypeExample in ACS format
Book with author(s)Format:
Author, A. A.; Author, B. B. Book Title (italics), Edition (if any); Publisher: Place of Publication, Year; Pagination.

Chang, R.; Chemistry, 9th edition; McGraw Hill: New York, 2007; p 251.
Book with editor(s)Format:
Editor, A. A., Editor, B. B., Editor, C. C., Eds. Book Title (italics); Series Information (if any, including series number); Publisher: Place of Publication, Year.

Lin, Q., Pearson, R. A., Hedrick, J. C., Eds. Polymers for Microelectronics and Nanoelectronics; ACS Symposium Series 874; American Chemical Society: Washington, DC, 2004.
Journal articleFormat:
Author, A. A; Author, B. B; Author, C. C. Title of Article. Journal Abbreviation (italics) [Online if online] Year (bold), Volume (italics), Pagination.

J. S. Ritch, T. Chivers, D. J. Eisler, H. M. Tuononen, Chem. Eur. J. 2007, 13, 4643-4653.
Author, A. A. (if any). Title of Site. URL (accessed date), other identifying information.
(NOTE: If the website is a database with a static page address, also include the search terms used. Google searches are not acceptable references – cite the actual page the information is from (click through)).

The Combined Chemical Dictionary database, web version 2004 (1); CRC Press: Boca Raton: FL (accessed July 16, 2019). n-Pentane.
Personal Communication (including email)Format:
Author. Academic or professional affiliation, Location. Personal communication, date.
Note, for information in unpublished course notes, use this format but “Course notes” instead of “Personal communication”

Stu Dent. CHEM 203 Lab B05 Teaching Assistant, University of Calgary. Personal communication, January 23, 2021.
Table showing examples of reference formats various common types of sources.