Citation, Documentation of Sources
Q. I write scientific review articles for a company. When I use Zoterobib to cite sources in my articles, I see that scientific names for organisms in the titles that I add to my bibliography are not italicized, even though I chose “Chicago Manual of Style 17th edition” as the style. Should I italicize the scientific names in my article’s bibliography, or is Zoterobib correct?
A. You should apply any italics as they appear in the title of the source itself.
For example, if you paste the URL for a random article in the Journal of Infectious Diseases into Zoterobib (a scaled-down, browser-based version of Zotero, the popular open-source citation management program) and choose Chicago style, you’ll get the following bibliography entry:
Gruenberg, Maria, Natalie E. Hofmann, Elma Nate, Stephan Karl, Leanne J. Robinson, Kjerstin Lanke, Thomas A. Smith, Teun Bousema, and Ingrid Felger. “QRT-PCR versus IFA-Based Quantification of Male and Female Gametocytes in Low-Density Plasmodium Falciparum Infections and Their Relevance for Transmission.” The Journal of Infectious Diseases 221, no. 4 (February 3, 2020): 598–607. https://doi.org/10.1093/infdis/jiz420.
That entry features several mistakes (as you will discover when you examine the source itself):
The “q” in “qRT-PCR” should not have been capitalized, even at the beginning of the article title.
Not only should it be “Plasmodium falciparum” (in italics), but note also the lowercase f.
“February 3” is the wrong date; issue no. 4 of JID was published February 15, not February 3. (The article also carries a “Published” date of August 22, 2019; that date would have been appropriate had this article been cited before the issue became available.)
Also, Chicago drops an initial “The” from the title of a periodical. Zoterobib did get one thing right: “IFA-Based”; though the title with the article itself shows “IFA-based,” a capital B follows Chicago style.
Here’s the corrected citation:
Gruenberg, Maria, Natalie E. Hofmann, Elma Nate, Stephan Karl, Leanne J. Robinson, Kjerstin Lanke, Thomas A. Smith, Teun Bousema, and Ingrid Felger. “qRT-PCR versus IFA-Based Quantification of Male and Female Gametocytes in Low-Density Plasmodium falciparum Infections and Their Relevance for Transmission.” Journal of Infectious Diseases 221, no. 4 (February 15, 2020): 598–607. https://doi.org/10.1093/infdis/jiz420.
Zoterobib and especially Zotero excel at collecting and organizing source citations; no author should be without such tools. But the automated style rules that programs like these apply aren’t perfect. And the metadata (the structured bibliographic data collected by these programs from publishers’ and booksellers’ websites) isn’t either. You’ll almost always need to edit the info—preferably the moment you collect it, so you don’t have to return to the source later on.