Have you ever had a unique document or item that you wanted to create a citation for in your research paper, but you couldn’t figure out how to do so? The front desk library staff receives questions about managing citations from time to time, and we’d like to share a few of those questions (and their answers) with you. Since medical literature most often follows the American Medical Association (AMA) style of writing, this is the style we will demonstrate.
Today’s unique citation lesson focuses on citing Government, Agency, or Organization reports and bulletins! Okay, maybe these aren’t so unique, but they’re probably less often referenced than journal articles, wouldn’t you agree? Here’s a link to the example document for this session: http://www.cdc.gov/std/stats11/Surv2011.pdf
According to the 10th edition of the AMA Manual of Style¹, references to bulletins published by departments or agencies of a government need to include the following details:
- Author name (if given)
- Title of document
- Where it was published
- Name of the department/agency/government division that issued the document
- Date of publication
- Page numbers (if specified)
- Publication Number (if any)
- The series number (if it’s part of one)
Say you’re writing a paper about sexually transmitted diseases, and you’d like to cite a document you picked up at your county health department (for arguments sake, we’ll say the PDF above was the printed version). Using the format above, most of the relevant reference information can be found on the first page of the document.
- The author is considered the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention as there’s no one person responsible
- The title of the document is Sexually Transmitted Disease Surveillance 2011.
- It was published in Atlanta, Georgia.
- The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is the agency within a bigger department that issued the report; the US Department of Health and Human Services is the bigger umbrella.
- It was published in December of 2012
We won’t worry about the last 3 items for this one. All together, the citation should appear like this:
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Sexually Transmitted Disease Surveillance 2011. Atlanta, GA: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, US Dept of Health and Human Services; 2012.
It’s worth noting that when a department appears in spot 4 as it does in this citation, instead of completely spelling out “Department”, the word should be abbreviated “Dept”. If the department is the author in spot 1, spell out “Department” in spot 1.
Say you’re writing the same paper, but went to the CDC website instead to find the report above. Now the resource needs to be cited as an electronic resource. The format is mostly the same as above, with a few changes:
- Author name
- Title of document
- Pages numbers (if applicable)
- URL (insert the link to the document)
- Date of publication
- Date the webpage was last updated (if specified)
- Date you accessed the webpage
The finished citation:
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Sexually Transmitted Disease Surveillance 2011. http://www.cdc.gov/std/stats11/Surv2011.pdf. Published December 2012. Accessed June 12, 2014.
Often, it’s difficult to find a date to put in spot 6, so don’t worry if you can’t find it. The point of all citations is to give the person enough information so they can find the resource themselves without trouble. So long as you give the reader a URL that will take them most directly to the document you are referencing, your citation should be okay.
Thus ends lesson one! We have a few resources in the library that could be of use to you if you’d like to know more. There are two print copies of the AMA Manual of Style available in our reference collection for use inside the library. In addition to that, an electronic copy can also be found by searching through our ebooks on our website. Further, you can check out the citation page of our Personal Librarian Program LibGuide for many more links to helpful tips.
1. Iverson C. Government or agency bulletins. In: AMA Manual of Style: A Guide for Authors and Editors. New York, NY: Oxford University Press; 2007. http://www.amamanualofstyle.com/view/10.1093/jama/9780195176339.001.0001/med-9780195176339-div2-69. Accessed June 12, 2014*
*Very thorough citation there, if I do say so myself!