Reference Sources and Literature Citation

This page provides guidelines on reference sources and proper citation of the literature that will assist in successful writing and acceptable grades in the courses of Prof. James P.G. Sterbenz.

Journal Papers

Journal papers are generally the considered the most authoritative source, representing mature work whose results have been peer-reviewed and modified before publication. While journal publications are archival, due to the long review and publication cycle, they are generally not the source for the most recent research.

While there are some bogus journals, journals sponsored by scientific and professional societies (e.g. IEEE, ACM, IET, IEICE, KICS) and published by the major publishers (e.g. Elsevier, Springer, Wiley) are reputable. Journals frequently (but not always) have the word Journal or Transactions in the title. Some publications with the word Magazine in the title are as reputable as other journals; for example IEEE Network Magazine is more selective and has a higher citation index then most traditional journals.

Relevant Journals

A partial list of journals most appropriate to these classes:

Bibliography Entry Style

The citation must include the author(s), “paper title” (in double quotes), journal name (in italics), publisher (unless embedded in the journal name), volume no., issue no., issue date (usually a month unless issued more frequently), and page range (pages abbreviated as pp. with numbers separated by an en-dash).

Particularly if space is constrained, you may use initials for authors' first names (e.g. J.P.G. Sterbenz), and abbreviate common words (e.g. Jour. for Journal and Trans. for Transactions), use acronyms for well known journals (e.g. TON for Transactions on Networking and JSAC for Journal on Selected Areas in Communications).

Example Bibliography Entry

Rajesh Krishnan, James P.G. Sterbenz, Wesley M. Eddy, Craig Partridge, and Mark Allman,
“Explicit Transport Error Notification (ETEN) for Error-Prone Wireless and Satellite Networks”,
Computer Networks, Elsevier, vol. 46, no.3, October 2004, pp. 343–362.

Conference and Workshop Proceedings

The vast majority of research results are published in the proceedings of conferences and workshops. In some cases, these results are later published in journals, usually in extended form.

These can range from highly selective conferences that are as prestigious as journals (e.g. ACM SIGCOMM to far less formal workshops intended to hot topics and work in progress. It is a little more difficult to sort out quality conferences and workshops. Unfortunately, there are too many conferences of poor quality, and a few bogus ones (e.g. WMSCI made infamous by the SCIgen acceptance). There are a number of trade shows and marketing event, as well as for-profit conferences that aren't much different. You should be wary of publications from these events. Note that reputable conferences are frequently recive financial sponsorship from corporate entities.

Generally, conferences and workshops sponsored by professional societies such as ACM, IEEE, IEICE, IEE/IET, and IFIP are reputable, and these organisations have standards for approval of events.

Relevant Conferences and Workshops


Bibliography Entry Style

The citation must include the author(s), “paper title” (in double quotes), conference or workshop name with common abbreviation (in italics), publisher (unless embedded in the conference name), volume no. (in the case of multi-volume proceedings), location (if known), date (month and year is sufficient), and page range (pages abbreviated as pp. with numbers seperated by an en-dash).

Particularly if space is constrained, you may use initials for authors first names (e.g. J.P.G. Sterbenz), and abbreviate common words (e.g. Proc. for Proceedings and Conf. for Conference), use only acronyms for well known conferences (e.g. IWQoS for International Workshop on Quality of Service). Some conferences (e.g. SIGCOMM and INFOCOM) are known primarily by acronyms.

Example Bibliography Entry

James P.G. Sterbenz, Rajesh Krishnan, Regina Rosales Hain, Alden W. Jackson, David Levin, Ram Ramanathan, and John Zao,
“Survivable Mobile Wireless Networks: Issues, Challenges, and Research Directions”,
Proceedings of the ACM Wireless Security Workshop (WiSE) 2002 at MobiCom,
Atlanta GA, September 2002, pp. 31–40.

Technical Reports

Academic and industrial research groups frequently publish information in technical reports. The use of technical reports seems to have diminished with the advent of the Web as a way to disseminate information, but is still useful to provide a citable document that is less ephemeral than a Web page.

Technical reports can serve a number of purposes, including:

If the content of a technical report has subsequently been published as a paper, the paper should be referenced unless the technical reports contain important information not in the paper.

Bibliography Entry Style

The citation must include the author(s), report title (in italics), technical report number, organisation/department and institution name and location, date, and URL (if available).

Example Bibliography Entry

Bobby Bhattacharjee, Ken Calvert, Jim Griffioen, Neil Spring, and James P.G. Sterbenz,
Postmodern Internetwork Architecture,
Technical Report ITTC-FY2006-TR-45030-01,
Information and Telecommunication Technology Center, The University of Kansas, Feb. 2006,
available from


There is a very large range of types of technical books. It is important to stick to books that are highly technical in nature, and that provide extensive references of thier own.

Textbooks, such as the ones used in EECS 780, 881, and 882 are generally too broad in scope to be useful as a citation. The whole point of the term papers assigned in these classes is to drill significantly deeper into some aspect than covered in class or the book. On the other hand, it may be appropriate to cite a specific chapter, section, or page range as background material.

Monographs are books with a much narrower focus on a single topic, and are not usually cited in papers describing new research. Many of the supplementary books on reserve for EECS 780, 881, and 882 fall into this category. The citing of monographs is entirely appropriate for class term papers dealing with a topic for which a particular monograph provides substantial background information. For example, a term paper comparing 802.11 and 802.16 might reference a monograph on each of these topics.

Bibliography Entry Style

For a single author book, the citation must include the author(s), book title (in italics), publisher name, publisher location if not a well-known publisher, copyright date, and if needed, either a chapter number, section number, or page range.

For an edited multi-author book, the citation must include the section author(s), “section or chapter name” (in double quotes), book title (in italics) preceded by the word ‘in’, name(s) of editor(s) followed by ‘ed.’, publisher name, publisher location if not a well-known publisher, copyright date, and page range.

Example Bibliography Entry

James P.G. Sterbenz and Joseph D. Touch,
A Systematic Approach to High-Bandwidth Low Latency Communication,
Wiley, 2001, Chap. 5.

James P.G. Sterbenz,
“Protocols for High Speed Networks: Life After ATM?”,
in IFIP Protocols for High Speed Networks IV,
Gerald Neufeld and Mabo Ito, ed.,
Chapman & Hall, London, 1995, pp. 3-18.

Industry White Papers

Corporations frequently release information as white papers, which can range from biased marketing fluff to useful technical information about a product or service. Most white papers are available on the Web.

White papers should not be a primary source of information unless there are no better sources available such as journal or conference papers. The peer review process for paper publication hopefully eliminates marketing bias. In the case that a white paper seems to be the only source of information, it can be used and cited with the understanding that such bias may be present and any opinions expressed should be highly suspect.

If you do use a white paper, you should make sure to download copy for your one archives, as they frequently disappear from the Web.

Bibliography Entry Style

Unfortunately, white papers frequently do not have all information needed for citation, such as author and date. The citation should include as much as available of the author(s), white paper title (in italics), document number, organisation/department and institution name and location, date, and URL.

Example Bibliography Entry

John Doe,
The WhizBang Platform Architectural Overview,
white paper wp-001,
Here Today Gone Tomorrow Inc., San Jose, CA. April 1, 2007,
available from

Standards and Implementation Agreements

Standards are frequently the definitive reference for systems in general, and protocols and interfaces, in particular. Standards are developed and approved by organisations whose purpose is to document interfaces and protocols so that multiple entities can design and interoperate systems by merely designing to the standard. Some of the standards bodies most relevant to these classes include:

There are also a number of ad hoc consortiums (frequently called Forums that produce implementation agreements among their members. These implementation agreements frequently become de facto standards, and describe protocols and interfaces that supplement standards (e.g. the WiMAX Forum documents that apply to IEEE 802.16, or describe protocols and interfaces that have standardised (e.g. the OIF Forum implementation agreements).

Example Bibliographic References

IEEE, IEEE Standard for Information Technology – Telecommunications and Information Exchange between Systems – Local and Metropolitan Area Networks – Specific Requirements,
Part 11: Wireless LAN Medium Access Control (MAC) and Physical Layer (PHY) Specifications,
Amendment 4: Further Higher Data Rate Extension in the 2.4 GHz Band
IEEE Computer Society LAN/MAN Standards Committee, June 2003,
available from

Jogi Hofmueller, Aaron Bachmann, Iohannes Zmölnig,
The Transmission of IP Datagrams over the Semaphore Flag Signaling System (SFSS),
Internet RFC 4824 (informational), IETF, 1 April 2007.

Michael J. Demmer and Joerg Ott,
Delay Tolerant Networking TCP Convergence Layer Protocol,
Internet draft (work in progress), IETF, Oct. 2006
, draft-demmer-dtnrg-tcp-clayer-00.txt.

Note that Internet drafts must be cited as “work in progress”.

Project Web Sites

Research project Web sites are frequently hosted at universities and occasionally at industrial research laboratories. Funding agencies will occasionally sponsor Web sites that are a portal for an entire program (e.g. NSF FIND).

These sites are generally useful to locate citable papers and technical reports. There are two cases in which it makes sense to cite an entire project Web site:

  1. the Web site itself has significant information not available in conventional publications, such as animated demos or a GUI of a simulation or operational system
  2. the project as a whole is of importance to the paper, and it makes sense to cite the project URL as a concise way to refer to the project in addition to conventional papers.

A project Web cite should not be the only citation, unless no relevant conventional paper exists.

Bibliography Entry Style

Information is frequently incomplete for a citation, but as available: authors (the principal investigators or main contacts listed), project or Web page title (in italics), research group, institution, location, date (frequently last modified at the bottom of the page), URL.

Example Bibliography Entry

James P.G. Sterbenz and David Hutchison,
ResiliNets: Resilient and Survivable Networking Initiative,
Information and Telecommunication Technology Center, The University of Kansas, US, and
InfoLab 21, Lancaster University, UK
30 March 2007,

Company and Product Web Pages

Company and product Web pages should only be cited in the rare case that there is compelling reason to do so. If at all possible, a paper, technical report, or white paper should be references. If none of these are available, the Web site may be the only citation possible. In a few cases, a company web site may have detailed product or service information that is relevant to a scientific paper.

Bibliography Entry Style

Information is frequently incomplete for a citation, but as available: company name, product/service, or Web page title, organisation or unit within the company, location, date (frequently last modified at the bottom of the page), URL.

Example Bibliography Entry

Here Today Gone Tomorrow Inc.,
WhizBang Platform,
San Jose, CA., April 1, 2007,
available from


While Wikipedia is both a wonderful concept and a useful source of information, it is rarely citable in scientific papers.

Wikipedia, like Google, is frequently a good way to begin looking for information. There are three major reasons that are problematic for citation of individual articles in scientific papers.

  1. Wikipedia articles are not attributed to authors. In some cases it may be possible to find the names of some of the contributors, but often articles are edited by many people, some of whom are anonymous. Thus, unlike published papers, it is not possible to hold an individual or editor accountable for the accuracy of information.
  2. Wikipedia articles sometimes have errors, and the more obscure the information, the less likely the error has been noticed and fixed by others. Wikipedia articles on technical issues also may have marketing bias, are frequently incomplete, and may have been entered by non-experts or individuals with hidden agendas (click on the talk page of the Routing page for an example debate)
  3. Wikipedia articles are by nature encyclopædic, and therefore tutorial in nature. Wikipedia guidelines require that sources be cited (although they frequently aren't), and therefore a proper Wikipedia article is merely a portal to the information that could be cited in a scientific paper. Wikipedia articles rarely document information to the detail of the original citable sources.

On occasion, a Wikipedia article is so comprehensive, and contains a collection of detailed information not available elsewhere, and thus it makes sense to cite. In fact, if the article is so good to be used as a source for writing a paper (rather than as an information portal), it would be unethical not to cite it.

Bibliography Entry Style

There is little to cite other than the article title (in italics), Wikipedia, the last modified date (at the bottom of the page), and URL.

Example Bibliography Entry

Wikipedia, 4 April 2007,

Trade Rags and Mass Media Publications

There are a number of non-scientific non-peer-reviewed publications that are almost never appropriate for citation. These include trade rags containing news and marketing articles targetted to particular business sectors (e.g. Computerworld) and magazines for the consumer market (e.g. PC World). This type of publication is almost never peer-reviewed, may be biased to advertising or corporate interest, and is almost never a source of definitive scientific or engineering information. If you can get a subscription for free by filling out an information card, or if you can by it at a newsstand, it probably falls into this category.

In the rare case that you think you have a compelling case to cite one of these publications, talk to me first.


academic integrity and plagiarisim
writing guidelines and submission requirements
James P.G. Sterbenz

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