Skip to main content

WHSL Vancouver Citation Style Guide for Theses, Dissertations and Research Reports: In-Text Citations

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

In-Text Citations

  • A citation is an acknowledgement in your text of any references that support your work. A Vancouver citation takes the form of an Arabic number that correlates with a source in your List of References. These numbers may be in superscript¹ or may be enclosed in brackets (2), also called parentheses (3).
  • Whichever form you use (superscript or brackets), remember to be consistent throughout!
  • In addition to your text, tables, graphs, figures and images that are not your own work will also require a reference. You will require a reference number even when the name of the author appears in the text (eg. Smith¹ or Smith (1) has argued that ....) 
  • The same number is used throughout for one particular reference, and is reused if you refer to that reference in Chapter One, and again in Chapter Three, for example, regardless of the position in the text of that same reference.
  • When multiple references are cited at a given place in the text, use a dash to link the first and last numbers that are inclusive, eg. (2-5, 7, 10) refers to references number 2,3,4,5, 7 and 10.
  • Do not use a dash if there are no consecutive citation numbers in between that support your statement, eg. (1,7). 

 

Superscript or Brackets? Which Style of Numbering?

You may use either form of numering in the text:

  • Superscript numbers ¹,²,³
  • Numbers in brackets (parentheses) (1,2,3)

The text would look as follows:

"Allergic asthma and rhinitis may be associated." ¹ OR  Nasal diseases can have secondary effects on the lungs².

OR

"Allergic asthma and rhinitis may be associated." (1) OR Nasal diseases can have secondary effects on the lungs (2).

NB: Note the position of the full stop (period) in both cases for a sentence in inverted commas (quotation marks), or without inverted commas.

Rule of Thumb: Consistency is Key

Rule of Thumb

Which ever format you use (superscript or brackets), remember that you must use the same style consistently throughout your research report, dissertation or thesis, or any other written work.

In-Text Citations with Page Number

As journal articles in the health sciences are shorter than those in the humanities, not all health science in-text references require precise pointing to the actual page that was cited, especially if no quotation is used. Please check with your supervisors for the preferred method to be used in your School/Department, but if this unusual method is required, then the format is as follows:

With quotation:

  • As emphasised by Watkins (1, p.5) those who care for diabetes sufferers require "perseverance and understanding".  
  • It was stressed that those who take care of diabetes sufferers need "perseverance and understanding". (1, p.5)  
  • (1, p.5) may also be written in superscript in both examples.  

Without quotation: 

  • I am always at a loss to understand the general inability of physicians to communicate through the written word (2, p.v).
  • (2, p.v) may also be written in superscript.
  • Note: (p.v) in this example refers to pages from a foreword that are not numbered with Arabic numerals, but are numbered in the original text using Roman numerals (lower case).

Pages Numbers in e-Books:

  • In general, e-books do not have page numbers, but are still in a volatile stage in publishing history. This is why it is important if possible to identify in your reference the section or chapter from which the citation is taken. It is recommended that where possible, you should calculate as best possible the location of the text that you are citing if no page numbers are given (eg. on a Kindle book version). Other types of e-books may include the chapter and section. 
  • There is a software update (v.3.3) for Kindle Keyboard that apparently allows "real page numbers" to be displayed according to Amazon. Please note that v.3.3 is not the latest Kindle software update. Unfortunately, WHSL staff can not help with loading this software - please consult the technical experts in CNS for help with this feature.  
  • Citations of e-books should normalise as e-books become more ubiquitous, and will eventually follow a standardised format. Please check these pages frequently for possible updates before you hand in your work.

 

Citations in the Text and List of References: Examples

Number references consecutively in the order in which they are first mentioned in the text. Identify references in text, tables and legends by Arabic numerals in parentheses (brackets), or as superscript Arabic numerals without parentheses.

Example of a direct quotation in the text, with superscipt references:

"On 28 October, Robert Willner held a press conference at a North Carolina hotel, during which he jabbed his finger with a bloody needle he had just stuck into a man who said he was infected with HIV."¹ This demonstration was meant to prove Peter Duesberg's alternate theories that HIV did not exist, and was to give rise to a dire period in South Africa's health policies. Duesberg and other AIDS denialists continue to contest evidence that HIV is a direct cause of AIDS on his website, as shown by a "withdrawn" article purportedly "in press" in the journal Medical Hypothotheses in 2009². However, in a hand search of the journal itself, the article "in press" did not appear to have been published anytime from 2009 to date.

References

1. Cohen, J. 1994. The Duesberg phenomenon. Science 266:1642-4.

2. Read our withdrawn Medical Hypotheses paper here: HIV-AIDS hypothesis out of touch with South African AIDS - a new perpective. Available: http://www.duesberg.com/news.html [Accessed 05.01.2012]

Example of a direct quotation in the text, with references in parentheses:

"On 28 October, Robert Willner held a press conference at a North Carolina hotel, during which he jabbed his finger with a bloody needle he had just stuck into a man who said he was infected with HIV." (1)  This demonstration was meant to prove Peter Duesberg's alternate theories that HIV did not exist, and was to give rise to a dire period in South Africa's health policies. Duesberg and other AIDS denialists continue to contest evidence that HIV is a direct cause of AIDS on his website, as shown by a "withdrawn" article purportedly "in press" in the journal Medical Hypothotheses in 2009 (2). However, in a hand search of the journal itself, the article "in press" did not appear to have been published anytime from 2009 to date.

References

1. Cohen, J. 1994. The Duesberg phenomenon. Science 266:1642-4.

2. Read our withdrawn Medical Hypotheses paper here: HIV-AIDS hypothesis out of touch with South African AIDS - a new perpective. Available: http://www.duesberg.com/news.html [Accessed 05.01.2012]

Rule of Thumb for Number of Authors in Text

 Rule of Thumb

  • Only author surnames are used in the text (no initials)
  • One to two authors: use both authors' surnames, eg. Callous & Mellow¹ refer to the non-traditional ...
  • More than two authors: use only first author's surname followed by et al, eg. Gardiner et al² in a subsequent work found that conventional ...

Note: et al is an abbreviation of a Latin phrase et alia meaning "and others". Becasue it is in a language other than English it is always written in italic font.

Number of Authors per Article Cited in Text

When using the Vancouver style, the number of authors cited in the text is irrelevant, as you are using a numerical system to refer to the article (see in-text citation examples in the on the top of this page). However, if you want to state in your text that "according to [Brown, Jones, Smith, DuPreez and Van Rensburg's article cited below in the reference list], only green cows were used in their experimental design¹", then only the first author, followed by et al, is necessary.

This is written as:

According to Brown et al, only green cows were used in their experimental design.¹

Note: et al (and others) is always written in italic font.

In your reference list (bibliography) the citation takes the form shown below:

1. Brown, A., Jones, B., Smith, C., DuPreez, Q. & Van Rensburg, R. 2010. Use of green cows as experimental laboratory animals. J Peculiar Research 3:25-36.

However, see the Rule of Thumb for Brevity on the next page.