Any statement of fact that is not common knowledge must be cited properly. Failure to properly cite sources will be considered plagiarism and manuscripts will be sent back to the authors. In extreme cases, manuscripts may be rejected. In extreme cases, manuscripts may be rejected. Please review our Academic Honesty page for information on plagiarism and properly citing sources. Citation guidelines for sources you reference are provided below.

What kinds of sources make good references for scientific writing? Some useful resources on finding useful sources can be found here.

  • Peer-reviewed journal articles
  • Textbooks
  • Official websites with “.gov” or “.org” web addresses
  • Science magazines/news articles
  • Encyclopedias

Try to avoid using these kinds of sources, if possible:

  • Wikipedia (and other sites where anyone can edit the information)
  • Blogs and social media posts (unless this kind of medium is important to your study)

Reference formatting

JEI uses a modified version of MLA8 format to achieve a balance between “typical” scientific citation styles and ease of generating reference lists for our authors. A comprehensive guide on MLA format can be found here. The major differences to remember with JEI’s style compared to MLA8 include:

  • In text citations should be numbered in the order in which they appear in text
  • No hanging indents should be present in the reference list
  • Publishers do not need to be listed for journal articles

A template of an academic journal citation is as follows:

Author name(s). “Title of Article.” Name of Journal, vol. X, no. X, Day Month Year, pp. XX-XX. doi:

Common mistakes to look out for:

  • Sources with multiple authors
    • For two authors, “Lastname1, Firstname1 and Firstname2 Lastname2”
    • For more than two authors, “Lastname1, Firstname1, et al.”
  • URLS
    • No “https://” at the beginning of a web address

Here are examples of a few common types of references:

Journal Article

1. Yockey, Laura J., et al. “Type I Interferons Instigate Fetal Demise after Zika Virus Infection.” Science Immunology, vol. 3, no. 19, Jan. 2018, doi:10.1126/sciimmunol.aao1680.


2. “Cytomegalovirus (CMV) and Congenital CMV Infection." Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Accessed 26 Dec. 2019.


3. Estes, M. K., and A. Z. Kapikian. “Rotaviruses.” Fields Virology, edited by David M Knipe and Peter M Howley, 5th ed., vol. 2, Lippincott Williams and Wilkins, 2007, pp. 1917–74.

In-text citations

While the individual references themselves should follow MLA format, citations within the manuscript should be numbered based on when they appear in the manuscript. For example, the first citation should have a (1) at the end of the sentence, and this (1) should correspond to the first citation in the reference section, which should be a numbered list. To use one of the example references above, “Cytomegalovirus (CMV) is the most common congenital viral infection and a leading cause of hearing loss in infected infants (2).”

Citation Managers”

Professional scientists often use software known as “citation managers” to help organize their citations while writing. These programs make it easy to move large chunks of text and have the citations automatically renumber based on their new location. JEI does not require our authors to use a citation manager; however, if you already have experience with them or are interested in learning how to, we have created citation manager styles that will help correctly format your citations.

On our author resources page you can find style downloads for EndNote, Zotero and Mendeley.

Please Note: Even if you use a citation manager you will need to manually review your reference list for correctness. There is a high chance that they will still hyperlink all URLs in the list which is not allowed under JEI guidelines.

Resource Accessibility

JEI understands that scientific papers published in professional journals can be inaccessible by students, both in terms of difficulty and public availability. We encourage students to use and cite readily available resources such as textbooks, encyclopedias, and science magazines. All internet sources will be assessed by the reviewers and editors. Our Resources page contains helpful links for literature search.