How to Properly Reference Software in a Research Paper?

Create a spot-on reference in APA, MLA, Chicago, Harvard, and other styles

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Should Software Be Included in Your Reference List?

Most citation styles recommend including software in your bibliography when it's referenced in your paper. The details in the bibliography can vary based on the chosen citation style.

For instance, the Chicago Style (17th edition) demands comprehensive bibliographic details, including the author, program name, version and edition numbers, publisher (you can also indicate the city), publication year, URL, access date, as well as contributors such as sound designers or artists. At the same time, the MHRA (3rd edition) requires a more concise reference, where it is sufficient to indicate only the developer, the name, the year of publication and the platform on which the program runs.

It is important to note that not all programs should be listed as software in the reference list. For example, video games often have their own citation schemes that differ from other applications.

Furthermore, it's crucial to differentiate between referencing the program itself and a file opened within it. Certain sources, like books, journal articles, or other content, may require the use of specialized viewer applications. In such cases, the primary reference should be the source material, not the program. Hence, it should be cited accordingly.

How to Create Bibliographic References to Computer Programs, Mobile Applications and Other Types of Software?

To create a bibliographic reference for any program or application, you should begin by collecting all the essential data. The most important information for the bibliography is:

  • Author (developer) of the program, which can be an individual, a group, or an entire development studio.
  • The name of the software.
  • Publisher. Often the publisher is the same as the author, making this detail optional in some cases.
  • Full publication date or year. If your research paper focuses on a specific version of the program, it is acceptable to indicate the release date of the version, rather than the original release date of the program.
  • URL link (if available). Required so that the person reading your bibliography can easily access the specified software.

Optional elements may include edition number and title, program version, system requirements, contributors, access date, update date, software type.

Afterward, insert this information into the designated "Software" fields within the Grafiati online bibliographic reference generator. Then, click "Add source" to generate an instant reference that complies with the requirements of your chosen citation style: APA (6th and 7th edition), Harvard, MLA (8th and 9th editions), Vancouver, ISO (690:2010 and ISO 690:2021), IEEE and many others.

We have conducted thorough research and analysis of the rules for all citation styles available on Grafiati in order to achieve the highest accuracy of bibliographic references and take into account all possible user needs. Try our automatic citation generator for free!

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