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University Library, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign

Tricky Life Sciences Citations: Home

Tips for Tricky Life Sciences Citations

Taxonomists, geologists, and mathematicians may need old periodicals, published in different languages. German was formerly the common language for science, so many of the old citations are to German periodicals. Many of these old periodicals are the publications of small, regional scientific societies with long names. Colonialism and the Age of Exploration meant that many European scientific societies published articles about Africa, Indonesia, and other parts of the world.

Modern journal abbreviations follow ISO standard but older citations are more variable.

Here are some tips and tricks to help you in your search:

  • It is often easier to find long, complicated journal titles by browsing lists than by searching databases with non-standard abbreviations.
  • German builds words by adding on (Zeit (time) + Schrift (writing) = periodical). German tends towards abbreviations anyway, so authors citing foreign works may not know the full title themselves.
  • Spellings changed in the 19th century (Neanderthal=Neandertal; Centralblatt=Zentralblatt).
  • Umlauts are properly transliterated as ue, oe, etc. (for ü, ö, etc.) but may not be.
  • French and Italian bibliographic words more similar to English/Latin (journal, bulletin). Dutch, Scandinavian terms similar to German.
  • Knowing a little bibliographic German or French is very helpful!

Subject Guide

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Biology Librarian
Biosciences Librarian: Kelli Trei, Liaison to the Schools of Life Sciences in LAS: Molecular & Cellular Biology, Integrative Biology, and the Carl R. Woese Institute for Genomic Biology

218 Funk ACES Library
1101 S. Goodwin Ave., M/C 633
Urbana, IL 61801
(217) 244-2503
Subjects: Biology