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WHSL Vancouver Citation Style Guide for Theses, Dissertations and Research Reports: Introduction

Replaces the section on citations (references) in the official Faculty of Health Sciences Style Guide for Theses, Dissertations and Research Reports

General Information on Citing

Citation styles are changing rapidly with the evolution of e-publishing. It is important to consult this Guide regularly to note changes in citation styles that might affect your citations for your thesis, dissertation or research report. 

References shoud be chosen and cited to:

  • indicate the source of the writer's statements
  • acknowledge another person's work
  • provide a source of additional information

The relevance of any reference should be carefully considered and the number of references kept to a necessary minimum. All references appear together at the end of the publication. The citations must be given in sufficient detail for easy retrieval of the information.

All references should be verified by the candidate against the original full text documents. Do not assume that a reference copied from someone else's work is accurate. Avoid using abstracts as references.


Accuracy and Consistency of Citations

Your final thesis, dissertation or research report will be judged on the accuracy of your references, as well as on the way in which they are cited in your text. Unfortunately, creating a list of references, even if aided by an electronic reference manager, is time consuming and tedious. Punctuation and accuracy of spelling matters, as do journal title abbreviations, etc. Accurate variations in UK and USA spelling, such as Pediatrics or Paediatrics are also important. There are no short cuts! The only advice is to be consistent, thorough, accurate and careful throughout. If possible, ask someone else to help you proof read. Two sets of eyes are always better than one, especially if you have read your work many times already.

Vancouver Citation Style

Vancouver is a generic term for a style of referencing widely used in the health sciences. It uses numbers to refer to the citations in text, followed by a numbered list of references at the end of the article.

This style is based on two authorities. The Faculty of Health Sciences at Wits uses a combination of these two authorities: The US National Library of Medicine's Citing Medicine, and the AMA Manual of Style.  

Candidates registered for a postgraduate degree in the Faculty of Health Sciences should use the offical style as set out in this guide.

Those publishing in an AMA journal should follow the AMA Manual of Style

AMA Manual

The AMA Manual of Style is also available online

Rules of Thumb

Throughout this Guide, certain general rules apply to all citations. These will be indicated in the following sections by this icon: 

Rule of Thumb