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
Macilwain C (2011) Concerns over nuclear energy are legitimate. Nature 471:549
A journal article with 2 authors
Striedter GF, Srinivasan S (2015) BRAIN EVOLUTION. Knowing when to fold them. Science 349:31–32
A journal article with 3 authors
Pendry JB, Martín-Moreno L, Garcia-Vidal FJ (2004) Mimicking surface plasmons with structured surfaces. Science 305:847–848
A journal article with 5 or more authors
Williams C, van den Berg M, Stanley WA, et al (2013) A disulphide bond in the E2 enzyme Pex4p modulates ubiquitin-conjugating activity. Sci Rep 3:2212

Books and book chapters

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

An authored book
Laplante PA, Ovaska SJ (2011) Real-Time Systems Design and Analysis. John Wiley & Sons, Inc., Hoboken, NJ
An edited book
Jonkman MF (ed) (2016) Autoimmune Bullous Diseases: Text and Review. Springer International Publishing, Cham
A chapter in an edited book
Karimanzira D (2016) Model Based Decision Support Systems. In: Rauschenbach T (ed) Modeling, Control and Optimization of Water Systems: Systems Engineering Methods for Control and Decision Making Tasks. Springer, Berlin, Heidelberg, pp 185–220

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) The Role Of Science And Innovation In A 21st Century Government. 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 (1999) Intercollegiate Athletics: Comparison of Selected Characteristics for Men’s and Women’s Programs. 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
Chamoun TJ (2014) A paleopathological survey of ancient Peruvian crania housed at the Peabody Museum of Archaeology and Ethnology at Harvard University, Cambridge, Massachusetts: A special emphasis on scurvy. Doctoral dissertation, Florida Atlantic University

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
Bosman J, Harmon A, Hauser C, et al (2017) Friends and Relatives Share Memories About the Las Vegas Shooting Victims. New York Times A18

In-text citations

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

This sentence cites one reference (Macilwain 2011).
This sentence cites two references (Macilwain 2011; Striedter and Srinivasan 2015).

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

  • Two authors: (Striedter and Srinivasan 2015)
  • Three or more authors: (Williams 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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