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BIOL/ESCI 304 - Ecology

A guide for BIOL/ESCI 304 students researching environmental topics in the library and on the internet.

How Do I Tell if a Citation is a Book or a Journal Article?

When you find an article that you like, one of the best ways to find other sources is to look through the article's reference list. Most commonly, this section is either called "Literature Cited" or "References". When you are looking through the list of references (or reference citations), how do you know what is a journal article and what is a book? Let's use the following reference citations, taken from an article in Journal of Ecology, as an example.

Baskin, C. C., and J. M. Baskin. 2004. Seeds: ecology, biogeography, and evolution of dormancy and germination. Third edition. Academic Press. San Diego, California, USA.
Pheloung, P. C., P. A. Williams, and S. R. Halloy. 1999. A weed risk assessment model for use as a biosecurity tool evaluating plant introductions. Journal of Environmental Management 57:239-251.
Rejmánek, M. 2001. Invasiveness. Pages 379-385 in D. Simberloff and M. Rejmanek, editors. Encyclopedia of biological invasions. University of California Press, Berkeley, California, USA.

Journal articles

Let's start with the journal article. You should be able to pick out the second reference as a journal article (the journal's title is Journal of Environmental Management!). But, what if the reference mentioned Oikos, People and Nature, Theoretical Ecology, or Web Ecology instead? Unless you are familiar with these journals, how would you know they are journals? The key is to look at the end of the citation. For journal articles, you will see a volume number and page numbers. In the example above, 57 is the volume number for that article and 239-251 are the page. Sometimes, though, you will see a reference citation that includes a volume number, an issue number, and page numbers. For example 32(8):1167-84 indicates that the article is in volume 32 and issue number 8, and is on pages 1167 to 1184 of that journal.


A reference to a book will always have a publisher and the city of the publisher. In the first reference citation above, the publisher is Academic Press, which is located in San Diego, California. The third reference citation above is also a book: it was published by the University of California Press, which is in Berkeley, California. Note that not all publishers have "Press" in their names. Springer is a good example.

Chapters or articles from books

Sometimes, an author will cite only a chapter or a paper from a book, not the entire book. The third reference above is an example of this. The article is "Invasiveness" and this article can be found in the book "Encyclopedia of Biological Invasions". Notice that with an article or a paper from a book, that page numbers are listed (in this case 379 to 385. But, the key is that a publisher is listed, not a volume number.


Journal articles: Look through the citation for a volume number and page numbers.

Books: Look for a publisher. Page numbers might be present if the author is only using a chapter or a paper in the book.

How Do I Find the Journal Article from a Reference List?

You found a reference citation to a journal article in the Literature Cited section of another journal article. How do you find the article? The following video demonstrates how.

How Do I Find the Book from a Reference List?

You found a reference citation to a book in the Literature Cited section of a journal article. How do you find the e-book? The following video demonstrates how.

What if the Mardigian Library Doesn't Have the Article or Book I Want?

You will often come across journal articles or books/book chapters that the library doesn't have access to. But, we still might be able to get access through interlibrary loan. This video demonstrates how to request something through ILL. Just remember that requesting something through ILL isn't instantaneous; it can take 3 to 5 days to get it (if it's available), so don't wait until the night before!

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