How to format your references using the Empirical Software Engineering citation style

This is a short guide how to format citations and the bibliography in a manuscript for Empirical Software Engineering. For a complete guide how to prepare your manuscript refer to the journal's instructions to authors.

Using reference management software

Typically you don't format your citations and bibliography by hand. The easiest way is to use a reference manager:

PaperpileThe citation style is built in and you can choose it in Settings > Citation Style or Paperpile > Citation Style in Google Docs.
EndNoteFind the style here: output styles overview
Mendeley, Zotero, Papers, and othersThe style is either built in or you can download a CSL file that is supported by most references management programs.
BibTeXBibTeX syles are usually part of a LaTeX template. Check the instructions to authors if the publisher offers a LaTeX template for this journal.

Journal articles

Those examples are references to articles in scholarly journals and how they are supposed to appear in your bibliography.

Not all journals organize their published articles in volumes and issues, so these fields are optional. Some electronic journals do not provide a page range, but instead list an article identifier. In a case like this it's safe to use the article identifier instead of the page range.

A journal article with 1 author
Jordan KD (2004) Chemistry. A fresh look at electron hydration. Science 306:618–619
A journal article with 2 authors
Vance V, Vaucheret H (2001) RNA silencing in plants--defense and counterdefense. Science 292:2277–2280
A journal article with 3 authors
Gao F, Ding Z, Meng S (2013) Three-dimensional metal-intercalated covalent organic frameworks for near-ambient energy storage. Sci Rep 3:1882
A journal article with 5 or more authors
Berman-Frank I, Lundgren P, Chen YB, et al (2001) Segregation of nitrogen fixation and oxygenic photosynthesis in the marine cyanobacterium Trichodesmium. Science 294:1534–1537

Books and book chapters

Here are examples of references for authored and edited books as well as book chapters.

An authored book
Raut R, Swamy MNS (2010) Modern Analog Filter Analysis and Design. Wiley-VCH Verlag GmbH & Co. KGaA, Weinheim, Germany
An edited book
Eiselt HA, Marianov V (eds) (2011) Foundations of Location Analysis. Springer US, Boston, MA
A chapter in an edited book
Matthews G, Reinerman-Jones L, Wohleber R, et al (2015) Workload Is Multidimensional, Not Unitary: What Now? In: Schmorrow DD, Fidopiastis CM (eds) Foundations of Augmented Cognition: 9th International Conference, AC 2015, Held as Part of HCI International 2015, Los Angeles, CA, USA, August 2-7, 2015, Proceedings. Springer International Publishing, Cham, pp 44–55

Web sites

Sometimes references to web sites should appear directly in the text rather than in the bibliography. Refer to the Instructions to authors for Empirical Software Engineering.

Blog post
Andrew E (2015) Stranded Astronauts Will Return To Earth After Month-Long Delay. In: IFLScience. Accessed 30 Oct 2018


This example shows the general structure used for government reports, technical reports, and scientific reports. If you can't locate the report number then it might be better to cite the report as a book. For reports it is usually not individual people that are credited as authors, but a governmental department or agency like "U. S. Food and Drug Administration" or "National Cancer Institute".

Government report
Government Accountability Office (1981) Observations on Selected Aspects of School Lunch Program Administration. U.S. Government Printing Office, Washington, DC

Theses and dissertations

Theses including Ph.D. dissertations, Master's theses or Bachelor theses follow the basic format outlined below.

Doctoral dissertation
Swan C (2017) Arts participation and career preparedness: A pragmatic approach to assessing arts benefits. Doctoral dissertation, California State University, Long Beach

News paper articles

Unlike scholarly journals, news papers do not usually have a volume and issue number. Instead, the full date and page number is required for a correct reference.

New York Times article
Brantley B, Heller S (2016) Say It With Tickets. New York Times C10

In-text citations

References should be cited in the text by name and year in parentheses:

This sentence cites one reference (Jordan 2004).
This sentence cites two references (Vance and Vaucheret 2001; Jordan 2004).

Here are examples of in-text citations with multiple authors:

  • Two authors: (Vance and Vaucheret 2001)
  • Three or more authors: (Berman-Frank et al. 2001)

About the journal

Full journal titleEmpirical Software Engineering
AbbreviationEmpir. Softw. Eng.
ISSN (print)1382-3256
ISSN (online)1573-7616

Other styles