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Civil Engineering: Citation & Referencing

This guides will provide you with a list of resources useful to civil engineering students & staff

What do we mean by Citation & Referencing?

  • Citation:

It is the way readers know that certain parts in the work or research come from another source. It also gives the readers the necessary information so as to find that source again, and that includes:

  • Author(s) / Editor(s) name(s)
  • Title of the work
  • Name and location of the publisher of the source and the edition used
  • Date of publication
  • Page number(s) of the qoted or cited material

  • Referencing

Is an essential part of academic writing. Its purpose is to acknowledge the original source of ideas and work that is not the author’s own, and to refer the readers to the original documents so as to determine independently whether the attributed sources support the author’s argument as written.

When to Cite

  • Whenever you use quotes

  • Whenever you paraphrase

  • Whenever you use an idea that someone else has already expressed

  • Whenever you make specific reference to the work of another

  •  Whenever someone else’s work has been critical in developing your own ideas

APA Citation Style

Writing Assistance On Campus


Citation Managers

Here is a list of online reference managers that you can use to gather, manage, store and share all types of information, as well as generate citations and bibliographies. 

EndNote Web (Basic) (online registration is necessary)

RefWorks (online registration is necessary)

Citavi (free download)

Zotero (free download)


Citation Generators

Citation Machine
Citation Machine is a free site that automatically produces MLA, APA, Turabian or Chicago style citations for a variety of sources (but not bibliographies). Users can copy and paste citations into Word. It was developed by David Warlick, an educator.

KnightCite is a free site that automatically produces MLA, APA, or Chicago style citations for 25 types of sources with availability to register & save citations. From the Hekman Library at Calvin College.

The APA Wizard and The MLA Wizard
This free site automatically produces MLA or APA style citations for 6 basic types of sources. There is excellent help on each screen to assist users through the process of citing a source.

This generator will develop citations for tweets for documentation.  Simply paste the tweet URL and it will be converted into an APA or MLA citation.

DOI Search

  • What is DOI?

A digital object identifier (DOI) is a unique alphanumeric string assigned by a registration agency (the International DOI Foundation) to identify content and provide a persistent link to its location on the Internet. The publisher assigns a DOI when your article is published and made available electronically.

All DOI numbers begin with a 10 and contain a prefix and a suffix separated by a slash. The prefix is a unique number of four or more digits assigned to organizations; the suffix is assigned by the publisher and was designed to be flexible with publisher identification standards.

  • Where to find the DOI information for articles in Our databases:

  • If you have a DOI and need to find the article information, you can type or paste the DOI into the search box and click Go. Your browser will take you to the publishers web page associated with that DOI.


“Built-in” Citation Builders through EbscoHost

EbscoHost databases provide its users with ability to get the full citation according to all citation styles for the item being viewed:

  1. Click on Cite button






2. Choose the required citation format & then copy & paste it to Microsoft Word or export it using any reference manager

What are the differences between Citation, Reference list & Bibliography?

  • Citation:

It is a reference made in the research or paper to a source of information. This can be in the form of a direct quotation, summary or paraphrase.

  • References list:

It is an organised listing of the works cited in the text, placed at the end of the document. It follows a specific citation style such as the MLA, APA...etc.

  • Bibliography:

A full listing of all material consulted in relation to the research, including any source material that is not directly cited in the text. This list is placed at the end of the document, research or paper.

Why Should I Cite Resources?

  • To respect the copyrights of the writer whose ideas are quoted, summarised or paraphrased.

  • To create a more persuasive and academic research

  • To allow other users to trace the sources of information used and discussed

  • To validate the arguments

  • To prevent plagiarism

Choosing a Citation Style

There are different forms of citation styles. Many disciplines tend to use one specific style; for example, APA style is used in psychology.

Disciplines in science & technology use a variety of style manuals.

Your instructor should inform you with the preferred citation style before you start your research.

If you are not required to use a specific style, use the one you are comfortable with and fits your research needs; as long as only one style is used throughout the reseach. Just follow the guidelines and be consistent.

Avoiding Plagiarism

Plagiarism is the act of using others' words / ideas without clearly acknowledging their source. In doing so, the researcher claimes these ideas as the researcher's own; this may lead to course failure as a result of academic miscoduct. 

In order to avoid that:

Turnitin is an effective tool used for displaying and comparing texts that are similar to the submitted research across the internet and other sources. That will help students to develop their writing by using their own words rather than quoting or copying & pasting

Please refer to our Turnitin helping page

Citation Tracking

To navigate the available literature related to your topic, you need to start with a relevant article or author, then work backward or forward. Ask yourself:

  • What sources does my article/book cite?
  • Which later articles or books cite the article I have found?


Google Scholar

Academic Search Complete

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Subjects: Civil Engineering