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When writing papers, is there a standard style that should be used for citing ArcGIS, specifically ArcMap? In particular, how do you reference a specific tool that you used in your analysis. I'm not referring to the citation style being used specifically in the paper.

ESRI mention how to cite data produced from them, but I could not find any advice regarding citing the software.

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up vote 18 down vote accepted

There are formats for citing software, see for example this question on tex.SE. Whether you should cite them depends on the publication venue, but particularly where the specific implementation is non-obvious it is a helpful thing to include. In this case, the citation would look something like:

ESRI 2011. ArcGIS Desktop: Release 10. Redlands, CA: Environmental Systems Research Institute.

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I might be misunderstanding your question but, I don't think you should cite ArcGIS or any of the tools used in any analysis. Citation is used for authoritative sources. Data citation should be included in the metadata of your data source. The tool you use for analysis is not an authoritative source, the person using the tool is. E. g. you cite the author of an article or book, not the pen it was written with.

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Tools used is an important part of the methodology though. A simple raster calculation using Spatial Analyst can produce a slightly different result to the same calculation done using other software. Having said that, I don't know if there is any 'right' way. I usually just say eg 'ESRI Spatial Analyst'. – Phil Feb 3 '11 at 22:06
Yes, a mention of the specific tool or description of how it was used, but that's different from a citation. – Don Meltz Feb 3 '11 at 22:20
It's a little different, but the first thing that pops up on my R console is how to cite and their guidelines are as follows: ` R Development Core Team (2010). R: A language and environment for statistical computing. R Foundation for Statistical Computing, Vienna, Austria. ISBN 3-900051-07-0, URL` I was wondering if there was something similar. – djq Feb 3 '11 at 22:34
I completely disagree. I am reviewer for dozens of journals and always expect authors to cite software. You certainly do not need get into the weeds and cite the ESRI extensions but the base software is correct. The citation provided by @scw is correct. If you are using a third-party scripts or extensions you need to cite them separately. For R packages I expect to see both the R software and package citations. – Jeffrey Evans Jan 19 '15 at 19:51

Although not authoritative, at least one could provide the user with a web-link directing them to the help files for the tools that you Clip some of these tools provide links and/or references to the reference used for the tool. Not authoritative..but a matter of courtesy and potentially further investigation

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Is it then possible to cite the help web pages rather than the tool? – Erica Nov 20 '13 at 16:18

In order for another scientist to replicate your work in an independent manner, you need to specify the algorithm you use at least and preferably provide a link to a publicly inspectable source code repository. Imagine if chemists wrote papers saying you must get your reagents from X Supply House to repeat this.

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true but not an answer to the question asked. And, how are standard spatial algorithms to be equated to their programmatic implementation when the majority of the users don't care, and the software publishers make little effort to completely document their offerings--and source code for an ESRI product, really? – V Stuart Foote Feb 4 '11 at 7:40
precisely why using ESRI products in published papers is no help! I know most users don't care but that isn't what we are discussing here. – iant Feb 4 '11 at 15:35
point taken. rather than "don't care" I would have been more precise to word it as "have no need of those details"... – V Stuart Foote Feb 4 '11 at 17:31

It will largely depend on the journal. Many will have guidelines for citing software and how to do it, and if they don't you might find older papers in the journal with references to software - then at least you know they've accepted that form in the past.

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