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
Gavaghan H (2001) Tips for sequence centre job-seekers. Nature 409:964
A journal article with 2 authors
Armitage BA, Berget PB (2008) Chemistry. An enlightening structure-function relationship. Science 319:1195–1196
A journal article with 3 authors
Tripodi M, Stepien AE, Arber S (2011) Motor antagonism exposed by spatial segregation and timing of neurogenesis. Nature 479:61–66
A journal article with 5 or more authors
Riedelsheimer C, Brotman Y, Méret M, et al (2013) The maize leaf lipidome shows multilevel genetic control and high predictive value for agronomic traits. Sci Rep 3:2479

Books and book chapters

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

An authored book
Duffy DJ (2006) Finite Difference Methods in Financial Engineering. John Wiley & Sons Ltd, Oxford, UK
An edited book
Shi D (ed) (2009) NanoScience in Biomedicine. Springer, Berlin, Heidelberg
A chapter in an edited book
Campi A, Ceri S, Maesani A, Ronchi S (2010) Designing Service Marts for Engineering Search Computing Applications. In: Benatallah B, Casati F, Kappel G, Rossi G (eds) Web Engineering: 10th International Conference, ICWE 2010, Vienna Austria, July 5-9, 2010. Proceedings. Springer, Berlin, Heidelberg, pp 50–65

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) Blocking Inflammation For Too Long Could Be Bad For Your Heart. 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 (2007) Business Systems Modernization: Internal Revenue Service’s Fiscal Year 2007 Expenditure Plan. 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
Casem J (2009) Moku Ka Pawa: Drawn to the Light. 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
Vecsey G (2012) Wisely Stepping Aside In a Bombarded City. New York Times D3

In-text citations

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

This sentence cites one reference (Gavaghan 2001).
This sentence cites two references (Gavaghan 2001; Armitage and Berget 2008).

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

  • Two authors: (Armitage and Berget 2008)
  • Three or more authors: (Riedelsheimer et al. 2013)

About the journal

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

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