Mechanical Engineering

Selected resources for mechanical engineering at the University of Arkansas.

Citing Right

Detailed requirement for thesis and dissertations for mechanical engineering can be found in the department style guides at:


Mechanical engineers traditionally writing styles that are used in the publications of either the American Society of Mechanical Engineers (ASME) or American Society of Heating, Refrigeration and Air-Conditioning Engineers (ASHRAE).

Detailed information on the ASME style can be found at  Writing a Technical Paper or Brief.  The University of Missouri has a very detailed ASME style guide on their website.

Detailed information on the ASHRAE style can be found in their Interactive Authors' Manual. This tool can be found on the ASHRAE publication and resources page.

In text citations are done differently by the different styles.

ASME uses numbers in square brackets [1] for in-text citations. References should be listed in numberical order according to their order of appearance.

ASHRAE uses author-date in-text citations with a reference list, e.g. (Ruston 2003). The reference list is presented alphabetically by author.

More Citation Assistance

Most databases provided by the libraries have a "Cite" feature built in. Look for a link or button for citing. If the link is available, you will see a screen which provides a citation in your preferred format that you can cut and paste into your bibliography.

Many electronic resources offer citation creators and there are some that are freely available on the web. Feel free to use the links below at your convenience.

However, make sure you carefully edit the results before you paste them into your bibliography, citation creators are not always perfect. Automatic citation generation is only as good as the details made available from the database.

What Is Common Knowledge?

"Common knowledge" -- you don't need to cite where you found "common knowledge". But what is "common knowledge"? Guess what -- it varies. Here is a safe definition, because you don't want to be accused of plagiarism.

Did you know it without looking it up?  If you are just learning about your field, you should err on the side of caution. Better to cite something that didn't need a citation, then to be accused of plagiarism.

Would other people in the class know this?  Common knowledge is based, to some extent, on what the "general practitioner" in the field would know. And what would be general knowledge for a practicing electrical engineer MAY NOT be common knowledge for a freshman engineering student.

Do you find the information in many PUBLISHED (not web pages) resources? Some experts say if you find it in 3 reference tools, no need to cite. Others say 5. If you don't have time to check that the information has been used in many different places, cite it. Play it safe. The citation can be easily removed later and until the paper is in it's final version, you will know where to go back and verify the information.

  • Example 1:  Water boils at 100 °C. (I looked it up to make sure I was right. Still it is common knowledge and I will not cite my source.)
  • Example 2:  The melting point of acacetin is 263 °C. (For an organic chemist, this might be common knowledge. For me it is not. I would cite it for two reasons. First, I had to go find it. Second, I want to show the reader it is valid number.)
  • Example 3: Nixon resigned from the US Presidency. (Common knowledge)
  • Example 4: Nixon resigned from the US Presidency at the urging of ....... (Not so common knowledge, I would cite where I found that information.)