Skip to main content

Physics 498: Scholarly Communication in Physics: The Citation Style

Why Cite?

Providing citations to the work of others you use to create your paper shows that you are using information ethically and honestly.  The basic tenet, "if you didn't know it before you said it, you have to cite it" applies to all academic scholarship.  Citing sources gives credit where credit is due and provides the reader with a "trail of breadcrumbs" which they may use to both learn more about your topic and to follow your line of reasoning.  Citing your sources shows that you have done the work and that you respect the intellectual property of the people you cite.  Not citing your sources is an act of academic dishonesty and can have grave consequences to both your academic career and your academic reputation.

Each academic discipline tends to have its own separate citation style, often modeled after the core journals in its field.  Physics has its own style as well.  

Citing your Paper

When publishing for a specific journal, scientists first consult the editorial pages of the intended journal for required style information.  For physicists, two dominant styles are generally used:  AIP and APS.  Notice that the style name coincides with the name of the Physics Societies who publish physics journals!

For this class, your professor recommends APS Style.

The complete style guide is available online as a .pdf document.

In this guide you will want to look specifically at:

  • Journal Title Abbreviations, pp. 21-25
  • Reference Lists, pp. 6-7

As you write your paper you can also use this guide to learn how to construct your tables, figures, and mathematical equations and much more.