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WHSL Vancouver Citation Style Guide for Theses, Dissertations and Research Reports: E-Journal Citations

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

General Rules for Citing e-Journal Articles

Citing e-journals still follow the conventions used for citing print journals. You must include all of the components below:

  • Author/s (Surname, Firstname, Initial/s)
    • You need to cite all authors, even if there are several, in your list of references. You may also cite the first three authors, followed by et al. Follow the same styles used in citing print journals with regard to the use of the ampersand (&), and remember the brevity rule of thumb used in the Faculty of Health Sciences.
  • Date of publication of the journal
  • Title of the article
  • Title of the journal (in italics)
  • Volume number of the journal (sometimes this is in bold type)
  • Issue number of the journal (if available), enclosed in brackets
  • Page numbers of the article

Elements of an e-Journal Citation with DOI

Note: the DOI is becoming the accepted norm for e-journal citations - use it where you have consulted an e-journal version rather than the URL of the journal, which will vary depending on the source of access.  As per the norm if you use the DOI, you do not have to state from where you obtained the Internet copy of the journal article (Available: ...), nor do you have to give the date of access, because the DOI is stable and perpetual, unlike the URL. Depending on your supervisor's preference you may include the date the reference was accessed.  

If you can not find a DOI, an example of how to cite with a URL is also provided below.

Journal article titles are written in lower case - use upper case letters only where necessary, eg. in places or personal names, or as in H5N1. 


DOIs (Digital Object Identifiers)

A DOI is a unique ID number that publishers are using increasingly to identify electronic articles (as opposed to e-journals which have an ISSN [International Standard Serial Number]). So the DOI identifies the unique article; the ISSN identifies the unique journal.

Examples of an e-journal citations with a DOI:

1. Strachan, M.W., Price, J.F. & Frier, B.M. Diabetes, cognitive impairment, and dementia. BMJ. 2008;336(7634):6. doi: 10.1136/bmj.39386.664016.BE [Accessed 10.01.11]

2. Strachan, M.W., Price, J.F. & Frier, B.M. Diabetes, cognitive impairment, and dementia. BMJ. 2008;336(7634):6. doi: 10.1136/bmj.39386.664016.BE

Note: If there is a DOI, you do not need to give the URL. If there is no DOI, the URL must be given.

Important: Even if you use a DOI, you still have to cite the entire reference plus the DOI.


How to Cite or Link Using a DOI

A DOI will never change - it is a permanent link to an electronic article or document.

To find a document using a DOI:

  • Copy the DOI of the article you want to open, eg. doi:10.1016/S0140-6736(10)61422-5
  • Go to
  • Enter the entire DOI citation in the text box provided, then click on Go
  • This is called "resolving a DOI"

If you are publishing electronically, you can also cite the reference as:

This will allow the reader to click through directly to your source from your list of references.

Using DOIs or URLs

You will notice from these examples that using a DOI is neater than using a URL in an e-journal citation. You should therefore always try to use the DOI whenever possible.