Citation of assessments

Citations within Red List accounts


Modern Red List accounts adopt an academic format for in-text citations and the associated bibliography, and each draft account amounts to a species-specific literature review. During assessment workshops and forum assessments, experts are invited to review and where necessary amend this data, and of course these contributions too will be cited in the final assessment. In some cases changes may be prompted by the identification of new literature sources or in press papers to which the account’s compilers had no access, but most commonly new contributions represent unpublished data or the expertise of the specialists themselves.

In-text attributions of new data communicated in a workshop setting are of the form “J. Lewis pers. comm. 2013” (based on the type of data and specialists’ preference, unpubl. data or unpubl. obs may be used instead of pers. comm.), following Red List Guidelines, with the initial of the given name(s) always before the surname (even if this is not the typical format used in the specialist’s native country). Where the information was included in electronic correspondence (e.g. during the post-workshop process), the month or full date may be included in the citation to assist with tracing the source.

With the advent of the Reptile Assessment Forum and related IUCN Red List forums, there is the opportunity for greater transparency and accessibility of personal communications arising from the assessment process, as records of these discussions can now be directly traced by interested users. As the forum is a new development no formal Guidelines yet exist for this citation format, and it should therefore be considered a work in progress, but the following is recommended (with a link to the appropriate forum, though not necessarily the specific thread, in the bibliography): “J. Lewis pers. comm.. in Reptile Assessment Forum April 2013”.




In the majority of cases, experts who contribute with novel and relevant information and who assist with the determination of the final assessment category will be acknowledged as assessors in the respective assessment. In a workshop setting, it can be agreed at the experts’ discretion that everyone within a particular working group who approves an assessment category will be listed as an assessor, however commonly specialists will prefer to attach their names only to species in which they have expertise. In most cases, as described below, the assessors will be credited as the authors of the account for citation purposes. A number of Specialist Groups have differing rules regarding the crediting of assessors, and may credit named working groups, Specialist Groups or other organizations as assessors in place of or in addition to named individuals.

Experts will be acknowledged as contributors if they provide additional information which is incorporated into the final account but is not relevant to determining the assessment category. This can include such information as elevation or other data which is valuable to include in analyses, or which adds detail to the account, but does not affect the determination of threat status. Contributors are credited prominently within the account, but are not authors for citation purposes.

In some cases, a reviewer may have personal experience with a species and be able to provide novel data. Reviewers are barred from being assessors of the same species, and so their contribution can be acknowledged by listing them as contributors. In cases were a reviewer provides novel data that affects the assessment category, it is the reviewer’s decision whether to be credited as a reviewer or whether to step down as a reviewer and be credited as an assessor (in which case a new reviewer will be found to review the assessment).


Citing Red List Accounts

IUCN’s Species Information Service (SIS) allows for a degree of flexibility in the way assessments are cited. The general rule is that the Assessor(s) are the authors of the assessment. As described above, assessor(s) can be named individuals or named organizations, Specialist Groups etc., and very occasionally a combination of both. Since Reviewers are not allowed to be Assessors of species they have reviewed, they are never included as authors. This gives the different user groups some flexibility on how to cite assessments, in such a way that what is listed in the Assessor(s) field can be different to what appears in the citation (Red List Assessment Authors field under Red List Assessment section>Publication Information tab). The default setting in SIS is that if the citation field is not filled in, then it uses whatever is in the Assessor(s) field.

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