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Scientific and Scholarly Writing

Tips and tools for writing scientific and scholarly papers.

Need Help?

Why Include References

Papers include a reference section, or bibliography, or works cited page for several reasons:

  • Avoid plagiarism
  • Document the intellectual lineage of discovery
  • Helps readers find related research (also known as citation mapping)
  • Citations are used to measure the impact of research. Give credit where credit is due so that people's careers can advance.

In life sciences and medical research, many journals ask for a specific style. Unless someone asks you for a specific style, consistency is more important than choosing the right style. Pick a popular style like Vancouver and use a citation manager to do your heavy lifting (although its always a good idea to double check!).

Which citation style should I use?

AMA (American Medical Assocation) Style is used for citing medical research. It is the standard for journals published by the American Medical Association.

APA (American Psychological Association) Style is typically used in the social sciences and education.

Chicago Style is used for humanities (with notes and bibliography format) and for physical and social sciences (with author-date format).

MLA Style is used for humanities, especially for literary research. 

Vancouver Style is used for medicine and sciences.  It is maintained by the National Library of Medicine. 

Choosing a Citation Manager

Citation managers help you organize and keep track of your references and generate bibliographies. Some also have plugins for in-paper citations, the ability to attach full text pdfs to citations, and tools to share your bibliographies with collaborators.

EndNote LogoEndNote Desktop (can sync with EndNote Online)

Cost:  Free for UMass Chan/UMMHC users.

Library Contact: Victoria Rossetti

Get it: Download EndNote Desktop Software


EndNoteEndNote Web Web/ Online/ Basic

Cost: Free

Library Contact: Victoria Rossetti

Get it:


RefworksRefworks (Web-based)

Cost: Free for UMass Chan/ UMMHC users

Library Contact: Victoria Rossetti

Get it: Create an account at using your institutional email


MendeleyMendeley (Desktop and Web-based)

Cost: Free ($$ for more than 2GB of online storage)

Library Contact:  Tess Grynoch

Get it:


ZoteroZotero (Desktop and Web-based)

Cost: Free

Library Contact: Tess Grynoch

Get it:

Mendeley Guidance

Citation Style Guides

AMA (American Medical Association)

 APA (American Psychological Association)


MLA (Modern Language Association)