citing an edited volume as a journal article or a book section?

There are a number of sources that are published as edited volumes in a series.  The two I’m dealing with right now are Current Ornithology and Studies in Avian Biology.

Each volume has an editor and usually about a dozen articles.  What would be the correct method of citing these articles?  As book sections or journal articles?


Carey C. 1983. Structure and function of avian eggs. Pages 69-103 in Johnston R. F. Current ornithology: volume 1. Plenum Press. New York, New York, USA.


Carey C. 1983. Structure and function of avian eggs. Current Ornithology 1: 69-103.

I would vote for book section as it doesn’t appear to be a multi issue “journal”.


What’s a multi-issue journal?  There are 17 volumes of Current Ornithology, but they are not published at regular intervals.

The articles are, however, peer-reviewed.

A journal comes out with weekly or monthly issues that are parts of the Volume while a Series is published in volumes which are part of a Series. 

I don’t think it matters if they are peer reviewed or not.  I list peer reviewed journal articles and chapters separately in my CV than non-peer reviewed articles and chapters. 

At the end of the day, as long as someone can find the article in question, I don’t think it is a big deal which one you choose.  If you feel that the Journal format gives the article more prestige than the chapter version, go for it. 

I believe these two titles are in fact different kinds of publications.

Current Ornithology is a journal (aka periodical or serial), so your second suggestion would be best, i.e. cite it as a journal article.

Volumes of Studies in Avian Biology on the other hand have individual titles, so is a monographic series (rather than a journal), so it would be best to treat them as books.

The main distinguishing features of a journal is that there is in theory no end in sight for their issues and they have a single, overall title. Note that journals commonly have editors. Also, they can be published regularly or irregularly. (This is oversimplifying a little, but covers most publications).



I see your reasoning, and I think it makes sense.  

To sum up, there appear to be some things about both Current Ornithology and Studies in Avian Biology that are irrelevant to the issue in question:

  • Both are peer-reviewed
  • Both have an editor(s)
  • Both are published at irregular intervals
  • Both have volumes but not seperate issues within a volume
  • CO always has multiple papers while SAB may have one paper or multiple.

In any case, the only difference that matters is that each volume of SAB has its own title, while each volume of CO does not.  Correct?

Thanks very much Leanne and John for your comments.

If anyone has a different opinion, I would still like to hear it.

As a quick follow-up, I’ve noticed that recently most bird journals are requesting in their author instructions that monographic series such as Ornithological Monographs and Studies in Avian Biology be referenced as journal articles rather than book chapters.

However, SAB does have an ISSN (0197-9922) while at the same time individual volumes have ISBNs (e.g. 9781482240221), so it appears they are both books and journals!