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
Schmidt C (2015) Cancer: Reshaping the cancer clinic. Nature 527:S10-1
A journal article with 2 authors
Marek PE, Bond JE (2006) Biodiversity hotspots: rediscovery of the world’s leggiest animal. Nature 441:707
A journal article with 3 authors
Pack A, Shelley JMG, Palme H (2004) Chondrules with peculiar REE patterns: implications for solar nebular condensation at high C/O. Science 303:997–1000
A journal article with 5 or more authors
Teixeiro E, Daniels MA, Hamilton SE, et al (2009) Different T cell receptor signals determine CD8+ memory versus effector development. Science 323:502–505

Books and book chapters

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

An authored book
Danson E (2016) Drawing the Line. John Wiley & Sons, Inc, Hoboken, NJ
An edited book
Coudel E, Devautour H, Soulard CT, et al (eds) (2013) Renewing innovation systems in agriculture and food: How to go towards more sustainability? Wageningen Academic Publishers, Wageningen
A chapter in an edited book
Pyka A, Saviotti PP (2011) Economic Growth Through the Emergence of New Sectors. In: Mann S (ed) Sectors Matter!: Exploring Mesoeconomics. Springer, Berlin, Heidelberg, pp 55–101

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) Beautiful Park Spends Half The Year Completely Underwater. 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 (2002) Electronic Government: Selection and Implementation of the Office of Management and Budget’s 24 Initiatives. 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
Kolakoski M (2013) The appeal to be heard and the trope of listening in classic film and African American literature. Doctoral dissertation, University of Arizona

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
Berkman S (2017) Mets’ Matz Needs Elbow Surgery in Another Blow to the Rotation. New York Times B10

In-text citations

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

This sentence cites one reference (Schmidt 2015).
This sentence cites two references (Marek and Bond 2006; Schmidt 2015).

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

  • Two authors: (Marek and Bond 2006)
  • Three or more authors: (Teixeiro et al. 2009)

About the journal

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

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