Skip to Main Content

Geology & Environmental Science

General geology and environmental science subject guide.

A citation...

  • describes a book, journal article, website, or other item;
  • enables the reader to retrieve the item you refer to,
  • includes the author, title, source (publisher and place of publication or URL), and date,
  • follows the desired style of the assignment, publication, or other venue for the project.

Why do we cite?

  • Helps us keep track of our own ideas: Citing as you go creates a good trail for your research.
  • Helps us give credit to the originator of an idea, thus preventing plagiarism.
  • Helps us celebrate the original work of the originator of an idea, lifting up their work and ideas and making them more visible. The author(s) did a lot of work to create their book, journal article, or other item, and citing them not only gives them credit, but also kudos.
  • Helps us connect others' ideas to one another.

How do we cite?

  • In-text citations and footnotes: Quickly give credit and reference to others' words and ideas inside our writing.
  • Bibliography/Reference list: List of our citations at the end of a paper, presentation, or other project. Helps readers find the full information for the sources we referenced when creating our own work.
  • Annotated bibliography: Helps readers -- or ourselves -- know/remember what an article was about, and why it was good to use in our project, by providing a brief description of each work being cited, summarizing and/or assessing the source.

Failing to cite a source correctly is plagiarism. Plagiarism is an academic offense and could get you in serious trouble! But don't panic: as long as you follow the citation guidelines, you will be fine. And remember: when in doubt, cite. It is always better to include a citation that you don't need than to forget a citation that you do need.

Check out our Citing Sources Guide if you need more help!

Citing Sources

GSA Style

Author's Last Name, First Initial., year, Title of article: Journal Title, v. , p. 0000-0000, doi:10...

(Note the first line of the text is left-aligned, with the rest of the text block indented.)

Nature Geoscience Style

Author's Last Name, First Initial. Title of article. Journal abbrv. volume, 0000-0000 (year).

(Note the text is all left-aligned and all the references are numbered.)

Citation Tools

Citation management tools are incredibly helpful. They can help you:

  • Store and organize your sources
  • Save and share articles found and your notes with collaborators
  • Build citations to use in your writing and final bibliography

JMU provides additional storage space and help with questions about Zotero. Zotero is a free, open-source citation manager that you can use in a web browser or in a downloaded desktop app. It has browser connector plug-ins to make saving sources as you're researching easy. And it has plug-ins for writing with Microsoft Word and Google docs. Check out the following links for more on Zotero:

What is Zotero?

Zotero is a free citation management tool that will help you to save and organize sources, create citations in a wide variety of formats, and share sources with others in a group. Zotero connects easily with Microsoft Word and Google Docs so you can insert citations directly in your text and automatically generate a reference list.


Annotated bibliographies—Purdue owl®—Purdue university. (n.d.). Retrieved February 12, 2024, from

Chenevey, L. (2023). Teaching the politics of citation: Challenging students’ perceptions. College & Research Libraries News, 84(5), 152.


Based on work from Alyssa Young.