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
Pan X (2013) Fundamental equations for species-area theory. Sci Rep 3:1334
A journal article with 2 authors
Pedersen TR, Gerken EA (2005) Creation of visible artificial optical emissions in the aurora by high-power radio waves. Nature 433:498–500
A journal article with 3 authors
Lepper C, Conway SJ, Fan C-M (2009) Adult satellite cells and embryonic muscle progenitors have distinct genetic requirements. Nature 460:627–631
A journal article with 5 or more authors
Welter S, Brunner K, Hofstraat JW, De Cola L (2003) Electroluminescent device with reversible switching between red and green emission. Nature 421:54–57

Books and book chapters

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

An authored book
Lane D (2011) The Chief Information Officer’s Body of Knowledge. John Wiley & Sons, Inc., Hoboken, NJ
An edited book
Shu K (2005) CMOS PLL Synthesizers: Analysis and Design. Springer US, Boston, MA
A chapter in an edited book
Sujetovienė G (2015) Monitoring Lichen as Indicators of Atmospheric Quality. In: Upreti DK, Divakar PK, Shukla V, Bajpai R (eds) Recent Advances in Lichenology: Modern Methods and Approaches in Biomonitoring and Bioprospection, Volume 1. Springer India, New Delhi, pp 87–118

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 (2014) Hardest Synthetic Diamond Yet Created. 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 (1994) European Aeronautics: Strong Government Presence in Industry Structure and Research and Development Support. 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
Valadez I (2010) A psycho-education peer support group for homeless youth: A grant proposal. 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
Burghardt LF (2006) New Meters Get a Mixed Review. New York Times 14LI11

In-text citations

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

This sentence cites one reference (Pan 2013).
This sentence cites two references (Pedersen and Gerken 2005; Pan 2013).

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

  • Two authors: (Pedersen and Gerken 2005)
  • Three or more authors: (Welter et al. 2003)

About the journal

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

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