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A bibliographic citation is a reference that points towards a specific source of information.

A complete citation provides all the pieces of information that you need to track down a source that has been referenced in a book or article you read, or assigned as part of your class readings.

It is important to be able to distinguish between citations to different types of information sources (e.g. books or journal articles), because you need to use different strategies to locate different kinds of materials.

You can identify common types of citations by the information elements that they contain. While some elements are common to most citations (such as the author/creator of the work and the date of publication), other elements provide clues about the kind of information source that is being cited.

Don't rely on italics or bolding to identify an element. Each type of citation can be formatted in different ways, depending on which citation style is being used.

Tip: If your citation has an abbreviated journal title (e.g., Bull at Sci, J. Appl. Econom), cut and paste the title into Google or consult the Science & Engineering Journal Abbreviations list to discover the complete journal title.

Journal Articles

At first glance, journal article citations can look very similar to book chapter citations. In particular, journal article citations also contain two titles: the title of the article and the title of the journal. However, different publication information is given for a journal article.

For example, the table below shows a sample citation in MLA and APA style, and the kind of information it displays:

Citation Elements Item Details Sample Citations
Author(s) Haas, Heather A. MLA Style:

Haas, Heather A. “The Wisdom of Wizards—and Muggles and Squibs: Proverb Use in the World of Harry Potter.” Journal of American Folklore, vol. 124, no. 492, 2011, pp. 29-54.

Article Title The Wisdom of Wizards—and Muggles and Squibs: Proverb Use in the World of Harry Potter
Journal Title Journal of American Folklore
Volume Number 124 APA Style:

Haas, H. A. (2011). The wisdom of wizards—and muggles and squibs: Proverb use in the world of Harry Potter. Journal of American Folklore, 124(492), 29-54.

Issue Number 492
Year of Publication 2011
Page Numbers 29-54
Medium of Publication Print

Distinguishing Features

  • The citation includes two titles: the title of the individual article and the title of the journal in which it is published
  • No place of publication or publisher's name is given
  • Instead, the citation specifies the exact volume and issue of the journal that is being referenced

Look It Up

To find journal articles by title, you can use Summon. Type the title of the article in the "General" search box on the library homepage. As with the example below, remember to add quotations to search for the title as a phrase.

Finding Article Title.png

To find journal articles by author, you can use Summon. Type the name of the author in the "General" search box on the library homepage. As with the example below, remember to add quotations to search for the author as a phrase.

Summon Search by Author.jpg

To get the full text of an article. Look for terms like "Link to full text", HTML Full Text, PDF, for example:

Example of full text included in database

IF you don't see a link to PDF or HTML full text, click on theubc elink button button to connect to full text.

There are two basic ways to search for articles on a topic. Searching Summon is quick and easy but has a number of limitations. Searching within specific databases is more time consuming but is also more precise and comprehensive.

General Search (Summon)

Searching Summon is fast and easy but has some limitations. Summon contains content from hundreds of databases which means that it includes articles from most subject areas, however, Summon doesn't include everything so you may be missing out on some articles relevant to your research. Furthermore, Summon lacks many advanced search features that individual databases provide. If you need to do a comprehensive and precise search you should search in specific databases and indexes.

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To find articles in Summon, go to the General tab in the central search box on the UBC Library homepage, and enter your search terms.

To learn about searching in Summon, watch the following video:

Tips for Finding Articles
  1. When results display, use the "Refine your search" menu on the left of the screen to "Limit to articles from scholarly publications, including peer-review."
  2. If you have too many results you can add a search term, for example: cooking and culture and mexico
  3. Not enough results? Try fewer or broader terms, for example: food and culture
  4. You can also put exact phrases in quotation marks so that Summon only retrieves articles where the terms occur together, for example: "Global warming"

Specific Search (Databases)

Searching one database at a time can be more time consuming but is also more precise and comprehensive. Some of the advantages of searching within databases include:

  • Databases usually only include content from a specific discipline (E.G. Psychology, Medicine) so you're less likely to get irrelevant results.
  • Databases usually let you search by more specific characteristics, such as journal name, age/sex/gender of subject, research methodology, geographical location of research subjects, etc.
  • The ability to do complex searches

Choosing a Database

To find a database in your subject area, search the Indexes & Databases portal or look at the Research Guide for your discipline or topic. Research guides are written by subject librarians to bring together the best sources on a subject in one place.

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To find the Research Guides go to the UBC Library homepage, choose Get Research Help. In the drop down list, select Research Guides.

Enter the general term for your subject, e.g. physics. You may retrieve more than one guide: choose the guide that seems best for your research, e.g. Engineering Physics

Once inside the research guide, look for a tab labeled Articles or Indexes and Databases or Getting Started. This will provide you with a list of databases you can search for subject specific articles.

To learn more about database searching, go to the Searching in Databases guide.

  1. Look for terms like "Link to full text", HTML Full Text, PDF, UBC eLink, for example : Finding full text.png
  2. If you don't see a link to PDF or HTML, but there is a "UBC elink" button click on that to see if we have full text. If UBC Library subscribes to the online version of the journal, you'll see this:
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Click on the Article link to connect to the full text. Where no full text is available, click on Search UBC Library Catalogue to find items in print at UBC Library.

3. Try searching for the title of the article in Summon. If the title is generic you may have to put it in "quotations"

4. If you still can't find the full-text of the article, you can go to a library and ask for help or use our Interlibrary Loan Service to get the item from another library.

Course reserves are learning materials made available by your course instructor. They may include electronic articles, books and DVDs and even websites.

  • Many course reserves are electronic but some materials are only available at the Library.
  • Non-electronic items are made available for a shortened loan period to ensure access for all students.

To access Course Reserves, follow the steps outlined below for the Standalone LOCR site or Canvas.

Standalone LOCR

1. Log into LOCR with your CWL login.

2. The courses you are currently enrolled in with course reserves will display under My Courses. Select the course to access the course reserves. LOCR standalone for students


You can access your course reserve readings in LOCR from your Canvas course.

  1. Access your course in Canvas
  2. Click on Library Online Course Reserves on the Navigation List. You will be taken to your course within LOCR 
  3. Click on the appropriate link for your course reserve item.

Your list of course readings is in the order submitted by your course instructor. The item list include Title, Format, Author, Call Number (if on physical reserve at your library branch), Pages, Availability Date and Tags. If you've already clicked to access a resource, you will see a Yes under the Read column.

The Search box will allow you to quickly filter down by Title, Author or Instructor Tag.

If your instructor is making use of the required reading feature, you will notice a Required Readings Star in LOCR to the left of your reading

Clicking on any title will take you to a record with further information about an item. You can connect to electronic items from this page or link to the item record to see if it is available at your library branch.

LOCR - Student Item List.png

The Item record window will include a View Item button that will launch to the library record or download a PDF. If your instructor has left special notes on your item, they will appear on this screen.

LOCR - Student Item Record.png


LOCR Article Icon Image Article: This will open to an electronic journal article available through the Library. If an article is available in multiple databases, you may be asked to select one.

LOCR Book Icon Image Book: This is a physical book available in your library branch. The item record will open to a catalogue record with the call number and branch.

LOCR ChapterExcerpt Icon Image PDF Chapter: This is a scanned PDF from a Library resource. The PDF will download automatically to your desktop.

LOCR PDF Upload Icon Image PDF Upload: This is a PDF uploaded by your instructor. The PDF will download automatically to your desktop.

LOCR Web Resources Icon Image Web Resource: This is a hyperlink to a website on the internet. The resource will link to a resource outside of UBC.

LOCR Media Icon Image DVD/CD/Media: This will link to a catalogue record for a DVD or CD available through the library or an online streaming media resource available through the library.

LOCR Physical Item Icon Image Physical Item: This is is physical item placed on reserve by your instructor for your course.

Error Messages

If you encounter any errors accessing a library resource, it is possible that an electronic resource is unavailable. Please contact your Library Course Reserve branch immediately for assistance.

I can't see my course listed in LOCR

You must be enrolled in a course to see it in LOCR. Please make sure that you are properly enrolled in your course or contact your instructor to have them add you. If you have recently been added to your course, please allow one night for course reserves to update with your enrollment information.

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