The Role of Information Literacy in Guiding Scholarly Reference Practices in Lithuania

Ian Malcolm’s observation from Jurassic Park, “Your scientists were so preoccupied with whether or not they could, they didn’t stop to think if they should,” insightfully illustrates the complex maze of academic referencing. Given the myriad citation styles available, authors confront a significant information literacy challenge: selecting the right style, pinpointing it in their citation manager, and aptly framing their references (Kratochvíl, 2017).

The quandary is that the plethora of citation styles, coupled with some journals crafting unique or modified styles, imposes a burden on authors. These authors, while experts in their domains, are not necessarily adept at every citation style, yet they are expected to conform (Rozell, 2022). Consequently, inconsistencies in adhering to citation styles emerge. This irregularity means algorithms detect reference errors, hindering smooth scholarly communication. Moreover, a lack of standardization complicates cross-referencing. Properly cited papers are more discoverable and accessible. The absence of clear citation style guidelines further burdens authors and employing widely-accepted citation styles can allow authors to concentrate more on content than formatting. Insights from these findings can be integrated into academic writing courses, and librarians can derive valuable lessons from the challenges associated with citation styles. Such an information-intensive environment indeed demands critical thinking, a cornerstone of information literacy (Denick, Bhatt & Layton, 2020).

Seeking to shed light on scholarly journals’ stance on references and the pivotal role of information literacy, I embarked on a comprehensive study of leading Lithuanian journals indexed in the Scopus database. My aim was to gauge the prevalence of citation styles, grasp how journals formulate their citation guidelines, and evaluate the emphasis placed on integrating DOIs in references.

I sourced data from journal websites, the Scopus database, journal guidelines, and editorial policies. The data types encompassed: 1) mentioned citation styles, 2) guideline clarity (style naming, citation examples, etc.), 3) any discrepancies or inconsistencies within guidelines, 4) open vs. closed access status, 5) discipline, and the journal’s ranking in Scopus. My analytical methods included: 1) Descriptive Analysis; 2) Content Analysis; 3) Comparative Analysis; 4) Error Analysis.

My research unveiled that a substantial portion (54.1%) of journals is ambiguous about their desired citation style, often providing examples instead of transparent guidelines. This vagueness poses issues from an information literacy perspective, compelling authors to interpret these “unnamed” styles. Tools like ChatGPT-4 pinpointed these as mirroring established styles (e.g., APA, Vancouver) but occasionally with subtle alterations. Such nuances, even for sophisticated reference managers, accentuate the importance of information literacy.

Moreover, while the significance of DOIs for information validation and tracking is well acknowledged, a mere 41.1% of journals explicitly require their inclusion. However, an impressive 78.1% incorporate DOIs in their reference lists. Intriguingly, the influence of geography appeared minimal, with the journal’s discipline having a more pronounced effect.

In summation, my investigation accentuates the crucial role of information literacy in academic publishing. As academia continually transforms, cultivating information literacy is essential, particularly when traversing the intricate landscape of citation methodologies.

Vincas Grigas
Vilnius University, Lithuania


  • Denick, D., Bhatt, J., & Layton, B. E. (2020). Citation Analysis Of Engineering Design Reports For Information Literacy
  • Assessment.–16508
  • Kratochvíl, J. (2017). Comparison of the Accuracy of Bibliographical References Generated for Medical Citation Styles by
  • EndNote, Mendeley, RefWorks and Zotero. The Journal of Academic Librarianship, 43(1), 57–66.
  • Rozell, D. (2022). Citation styles of references: a weakness of academic publishing. European Science Editing, 48.
  • Keywords: Citation styles, scholarly journals, quantitative analysis, scientific communication.
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