Understanding Citations

Here are some sample entries from 2 different periodical indexes. Another name for these entries is "citations." A citation gives you all the vital information about an article so you can find it. (You are also making a citation when you put a footnote in your research paper -- you are citing another author, so you tell the reader where they can find the source of your information.)

Sample from Business Periodicals Index (August 1998-July 1999):


When was the article published? Click on your answer.


May 28, 1998

August 1998 - July 1999

Compare that sample from Business Periodicals Index with this sample from Psychological Abstracts (April 2000). They look very different, don't they?


What is the title of the periodical for the 2nd article listed above? Click on your answer.

British Journal of Psychiatry

Focus on Psychiatry in Australia

As you can see, there are many codes and abbreviations used in periodical indexes. Understanding those codes is important for 2 reasons:

1. To find the article you want to read (or to request it on interlibrary loan if the library doesn't have the journal).

2. To write a complete citation in your research paper. (Citation formats for research papers are often different from what is shown in a periodical index.)

Each periodical index has its own set of codes and abbreviations. You can usually find an explanation of these symbols in the first few pages of each issue of the index.

Consider this citation for an article about dance during the Renaissance.


Let's say you found this citation in one of the periodical indexes, and you want to read the article. How do you find it? First, you must identify the most important element of this citation for tracking down the article -- the title of the journal.

So, what's the title of the journal in this case? Notice the italicized "Renaiss Q" in the 2nd line. That's an abbreviation of the title. You still need to find out what the full title of the journal is. Each periodical index includes a list of abbreviations used in the index, usually among the first pages of the volume. In this case, the full title is Renaissance Quarterly. Now you can look up the journal (Renaissance Quarterly) in Sadie or in the Periodicals Holdings List to see if EMU gets to it. Remember, Sadie doesn't include records for the individual articles within periodicals, it only includes records for the periodical as a whole.

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