Skip to Main Content

PEGN 430/530 -- Environmental Law & Sustainability

Library resources for environmental law

Government Information Citation Resources

See below for examples for government information citations. Government publications can be confusing to cite. You should look at the following and compare it to whatever style guide is mandated for your paper or project. 


Examples in IEEE Style

Periodical (scholarly journal articles and magazines)

Basic: [1] J. K. Author, “Name of paper,” Abbrev. Title of Periodical, vol. x, no. x, pp. xxx-xxx, Abbrev. Month, year. [Online]. Available:

Example: [6] H. Eriksson and P. E. Danielsson, “Two problems on Boolean memories,” IEEE Trans. Electron. Devices, vol. ED-11, no. 1, pp. 32–33, Jan. 1959.


  • If you get a source from a library database or Google Scholar, chances are it is a periodical
  • Include the article’s Digital Object Identifier (DOI) or URL at the end of your citation


Unpublished (Subject matter experts, stakeholder interviews, course materials)

Basic: [1] Personal interview, Date, Name of interviewee, their title or occupation, “Topic.” Conducted by: Your name

Examples: [1] Personal interview, February 2, 2020, Dr. John Smith, Professor of Chemistry, “Chemical composition of roadway materials.” Conducted by: Brianna Buljung

     [2] Personal interview, January 19, 2020, Sally Werner, Colorado Dept. of Transportation, “Roadkill in Colorado.” Conducted by: Emily Bongiovanni

Tip:  Give your professor as much information as possible so they know who you talked to



Basic: [1] J. K. Author. (year, month). Title. Company. City, State, Country. [Type of Medium]. Available: site/path/file

Example: [4] Bureau of Meteorology, "Bureau of Meteorology: Measuring Rainfall in Australia," 2009. [Online]. Available: .


  • Check to make sure your item isn’t one of the other types before assuming it’s a website
  • Always include a link and the company or site name (Apple, U.S. Climate Data, Dept. of Energy, etc.)


Video (and other Multimedia)

Basic: [1] J. K. Author/video owner / creator, Location [if available] (Release date year, month). Title. [Type of Medium]. Available: site/path/file

Example: [5] C. Brady (Director), (2012). Trashed with Jeremy Irons. [Online Video]. Available:


  • Check to make sure you have a permalink to get back to the video


Conference papers

Basic: [1] J. K. Author, “Title of paper,” in Abbreviated Name of Conf., (location of conference is optional), year, pp. xxx-xxx. [Online]. Available:

Example: [2] S. P. Bingulac, “On the compatibility of adaptive controllers,” in Proc. 4th Annu. Allerton Conf. Circuit and Systems Theory, New York, 1994, pp. 8–16.


  • You’ll find conference papers in Google Scholar and the databases too
  • Typically, a specific location on the paper, such as San Diego, CA, or the term proceedings are a giveaway that you are looking at a conference paper



Basic: [1] J. K. Author, “Title of report,” Abbrev. Name of Co., City of Co., Abbrev. State, Country, Rep. xxx, year.

Example: [1] E. E. Reber, R. L. Michell, and C. J. Carter, “Oxygen absorption in the earth’s atmosphere,” Aerospace Corp., Los Angeles, CA, USA, Tech. Rep. TR-0200 (4230-46)-3, Nov. 1988. [Online]. Available:


  • Reports can come from government entities, companies and non-profits (such as the UN)
  • ALWAYS include the report number (such as TR-0200) this is very helpful information for your reader



Basic: [1] J. K. Author, “Title of patent,” U.S. Patent x xxx xxx, Abbrev. Month, day, year. [Online]. Available:

Example: [1] J. P. Wilkinson, “Nonlinear resonant circuit devices,” U.S. Patent 3 624 125, July 16, 1990.


  • ALWAYS include the patent number, so your reader is sure to find the correct patent
  • If available, include a link for the patent at the end of your citation



Basic: [1] J. K. Author, “Title of chapter in the book,” in Title of His Published Book, xth ed. City of Publisher, (only U.S. State), Country: Abbrev. of Publisher, year, ch. x, sec. x, pp. xxx–xxx. [Online]. Available:

Example: [2] L. Stein, “Random patterns,” in Computers and You, J. S. Brake, Ed. New York, NY, USA: Wiley, 1994, pp. 55-70.


  • Cite eBooks and books you find in Google Books as a book
  • If you are just looking at a single chapter, site it as part of the whole book (see basic above)

Why cite sources

Citing sources is the hallmark of professional and scholarly communication. As a scientist or engineer, you communicate how you built your work and reached your conclusions. By citing sources, you:

  • Lend validity to your own research approach
  • Link your conclusion/contribution/idea to its context
  • Give the original creator credit
  • Permit your reader to verify your claims and pursue more information

Citing sources encourages you to think. By documenting how others' ideas connect to yours, you get the concepts more firmly in your head. Anything else is cheating yourself on your education.

Plagiarism is bad. Whether you content-scrape, buy another's paper, or just don't keep track of what you're doing, it's a breach of professional ethics if intentional, and also a sign of incompetence if unintentional. Either way, be aware of what constitutes plagiarism, and don't do it.

When to cite sources

Each research field has its practice on when to cite a source. You can develop a better understanding of practices in a specific field by reading more. Here are five principles with examples to get you started*.

(All examples used below are from a highly cited article by Staiger, P. et al. ** ) You must cite sources if you:

  1. Use facts or data to support your own argument. The only exception is the generally known and accepted constants or common knowledge, e.g. room temperature is 298K.

    E.g. “Magnesium is an exceptionally lightweight metal. With a density of 1.74 g/cm3, magnesium is 1.6 and 4.5 times less dense than aluminum and steel, respectively [16].” … …
    “[16] DeGarmo PE. Materials and processes in manufacturing, 5th ed. New York: Collin Macmillan; 1979.”
  2. Summarize others’ ideas, thoughts, research stories or conclusions in your own words.

    E.g. “McBride reports on the use of screws, pegs, plates and bands prepared from magnesium–aluminum–manganese alloys to secure 20 fractures and bone grafts [35].”… …
    “[35] McBride ED. Absorbable metal in bone surgery. J Am Med Assoc 1938;111:2464–7.”
  3. Paraphrase others’ sentences using your own words. (Note: simply changing the order of the words and/or tense is considered plagiarism not paraphrasing.)

    E.g. “Significantly increased (P<0.05) bone area was observed in all groups with magnesium-based implants at weeks 6 and 18, in comparison to the polymer control [31].”… …
    “[31] Witte F, Kaese V, Haferkamp H, Switzer E, Meyer-Lindenberg A, Wirth CJ, et al. In vivo corrosion of four magnesium alloys and the associated bone response. Biomaterials 2005;26:3557–63.”
    Original sentence in the cited article - “There were significant increase (p<0.05) in the mineralized bone area in all groups with magnesium implants at 6 and 18 weeks postoperatively compared to the control group (SR-PLA96) (Fig. 6).”
  4. Would like to offer supplemental information to your readers without repeating it in your writing.

    E.g. “Moreover, magnesium is essential to human metabolism and is naturally found in bone tissue [21], [22], [23], [24], [25] and [26].”
    The reference 21 to 26 cited are not excerpted here. The sentence above did not explain how magnesium is essential to human metabolism but implied that the readers can find more about it in reference 21 to 26.
  5. Quote others’ sentence, figure or table directly. In science and engineering, direct quotation is rarely used for research articles unless the original wording of a sentence has significant impact on the scientific meaning. Tables and figures are more likely to be quoted in review articles with the permission of the copyright holders, usually the journal publishers.

    E.g. “Fig. 2. SEM micrograph of a magnesium material with porous microstructure produced using space-holding particles. Reproduced from Wen et al. [62].”… …
    “[62] Wen CE, Yamada Y, Shimojima K, Chino Y, Hosokawa H, Mabuchi M. Compressibility of porous magnesium foam: depen-dency on porosity and pore size. Mater Lett 2004;58:357–60.”


Besides the above examples, a general principle is when in doubt, cite your sources.


*Princeton University. Academic Integrity at Princeton: When to Cite Sources. (accessed September 9, 2016).

**Staiger, M. P.; Pietak, A. M.; Huadmai, J.; Dias, G., Magnesium and its alloys as orthopedic biomaterials: A review. Biomaterials 2006, 27 (9), 1728-1734.