Unpacking References

You will encounter references (abbreviated publication information) in footnotes, databases, bibliographies, textbooks and articles. Figuring out a reference can be simplified by noticing things like date, volume number, and total pages. If these things are in the reference, then you have an idea about what kind of publication the reference is pointing to.


Publisher stated and total pages usually indicates a book:

Pomeranz, Kenneth.  The Great Divergence: China, Europe, and the Making of the Modern World Economy (Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 2000) 382 pp.

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Journal Article:

A volume number usually indicates a journal article.  Here's one with four authors:

Saywitz, K.J., Mannarino, A.P., Berliner, L., & Cohen, J.A. (2000).  Treatment for sexually abused children and adolescents.  American Psychologist 55, 1040-1049. 

Elements of this reference:

Citations for journal articles can contain abbreviated journal titles, though, like this one:

Karabel J. 1995. Towards a theory of intellectuals and politics.  Theory Soc. 25:205-33.

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A date, as opposed to only a year, usually indicates publication in a periodical, journal or newspaper--some continuously published source:

Schwartz, J.(1993, September 30) Obesity affects economic, social status.  The Washington Post, pp. A1, A4.

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Edited Book:

A reference to an edited book is a little harder to unpack.  As a rule, the book title and the book editor are indexed in library catalogs.

Goddard, Ives (1978). "Delaware." In Handbook of North American Indians. Vol. 15, Northeast, edited by Bruce G. Trigger, 213-239. Washington, D.C.: Smithsonian Institution

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