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GEOS 1406 History and Evolution of Life

Guide to sources for your term paper


What are students being asked to do? The objectives for your research paper are:

  1. to learn to locate, read, and understand scientific literature;
  2. to learn to integrate knowledge acquired from many sources and to assemble this integrated knowledge in a well-organized, coherent, and concise term paper; and,
  3. to learn the conventional format and style that are used in geologic research literature.

How can the library help?

  1. Finding sources: you are required to find and use scientific journal articles, books and chapters of books.
  2. Using inter-library loan: get sources from other schools well in advance.
  3. Meeting for help: make an appointment with a librarian to get help finding sources or citing sources for your paper.

Journal Articles

Starting on the library's website, begin your search process with OneSearch to cast a wide net. Once you review items there, begin to fine-tune your search with the following databases listed below.

Citing Sources in GSA style

The Geological Society of America is the citation style used for this course. The GSA guidelines and several examples can be found here.

Zotero Citation Management

Zotero is a citation management program. With Zotero, you can keep a record of the information sources you find and format citations in a variety of styles, including GSA. For more information, visit our guide to Zotero or the Zotero site.

In-text Citation Tips

With the GSA Style, quotations and borrowed phrases are indicated as such within the text, with the author's name and page number cited in parentheses. This variation is used instead of footnotes or endnotes.

When quoting or paraphrasing an author, begin the sentence by including the author's name followed by the date of publication in parentheses. At the end of the quote or paraphrase, include the page number(s) in parentheses. See the example below.

           According to Smith (2008), "warmer ocean temperatures can lead to the development of stronger hurricanes" (p. 133).


If the name of the author is not included within the sentence, include the author's name and the publication year at the end of the sentence with the relevant page number(s). For example:

          "Warmer ocean temperatures can lead to the development of stronger hurricanes" (Smith, 2008, p. 133).


Multiple Authors:

To cite a publication with two authors, include both authors' last names either within the sentence or in parentheses at the end of the sentence.

For publications with 3-5 authors, include the last name of each author the first time the publication is cited. For subsequent citations include only the last name of the first author and the phrase et al.

For publications with 6 or more authors, list the name of the first author followed by the phrase et al. for all citations.


  • The bibliography is arranged in alphabetical order by authors’ last names.
  • The author always comes first with last name followed by first initial, separated with a comma. Names of subsequent authors are written naturally. For four or more authors, the abbreviation “et al.” (“and others”) is used after the name of the first author.
  • Second and all subsequent lines are always indented.
  • Authors' first and middle names are never spelled out in the GSA style. Initials are always used for first and middle names.

Acknowledgments to Dickinson's Waidner-Spahr Library for their information:

Additional Resources