Imagine you are writing a paper on a cutting-edge topic. A friend in the field passes along a manuscript on which she is working that is relevant to your work. Your advisor, on reading your draft, hands you his own manuscript, which takes a different approach to the material. He informs you that yesterday he submitted this very manuscript to a journal for publication. Then, on your favorite journal’s website, you stumble across a bunch of articles that will be published in a future issue but have yet to appear in print, all of which you would like to cite in your article. None of these sources have been published in physical books or journals, complete with page numbers, at least not yet; how do you create references for them?
Manuscript in Preparation
A manuscript for an article that is not yet finished, or that is in preparation, can be cited and referenced using the year the draft of the manuscript you read was written.
Kirk, J. T. (2011). Reprogramming the Kobayashi Maru test: A tale of an inside job and the genius behind it. Manuscript in preparation.
Manuscript Submitted for Publication
If the manuscript has been submitted for publication, again use the year the manuscript was written (not the year it was submitted) as your date. Also, do not provide the name of the journal or publisher to which the manuscript was submitted. If the manuscript is rejected on first submission, the author is free to submit the article elsewhere, where it could be accepted. If this happens while your own article is in preparation and if your reference names the first journal or publisher to which the material was submitted, your reference is not only out of date but misleading.
Castle, R. (2012). Shadowing a police officer: How to be unobtrusive while solving cases in spectacular fashion. Manuscript submitted for publication.
As soon as that article is accepted for publication, the status changes to in press and you can include the name of the journal in the reference.
Castle, R. (in press). Shadowing a police officer: How to be unobtrusive while solving cases in spectacular fashion. Professional Writers’ Journal.
Advance Online Publication
Now, onward into the brave new world of articles being available before they are available—in specific issues of print or online-only journals, that is. Definitions of advance online publication vary among journal publishers. Sometimes articles appearing in advance online publication databases have been edited, sometimes they have not. They may or may not have a DOI assigned. For many publishers, these articles are the version of record and thus are, technically, published, belying the title of this post.
Yet the question remains: How does one create references for advance online publication articles? Provide the author(s), year of posting, title of the article, name of the journal, the notation Advance online publication, and the DOI or the URL of the journal’s home page.
Muldoon, K., Towse, J., Simms, V., Perra, O., & Menzies, V. (2012). A longitudinal analysis of estimation, counting skills, and mathematical ability across the first school year. Developmental Psychology. Advance online publication. doi:10.1037/a0028240
As your article is heading toward submission and publication, keep following up on your references that are moving through their own publication processes, and update them as you are able. If possible, refer to the final versions of your sources.
Have other questions about preprint publication sources? Comment here or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org!