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WHSL Vancouver Citation Style Guide for Theses, Dissertations and Research Reports: Faculty of Health Sciences Style Guide

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

Referencing (Citation) Styles at Faculty of Health Sciences

There are a number of different referencing styles. The Wits Faculty of Health Sciences accepts only two styles: Vancouver or Harvard. The one most commonly used in the medical and dental literature is the Vancouver style. It is extremely important to follow the same style and format consistently throughout your thesis, dissertation or research report. Choose ONE style only and follow this consistently. Please confirm the style acceptable to your School or Department before you begin to write up your chapters. If you use a reference manager such as End Note, please ensure that it is set to conform to the Faculty's Guidelines, as set out in this Guide. 

  • School of Anatomical Sciences: Harvard
  • School of Clinical Medicine:Vancouver or Harvard (please consult your Department to determine which style is preferred)
  • School of Oral Health Sciences: Harvard
  • School of Physiology: Harvard
  • School of Public Health: Vancouver or Harvard
  • School of Therapeutic Sciences: Harvard 
Note: References are NEVER given as footnotes for research reports, dissertations or theses at the Faculty of Health Sciences.

Steps in Referencing

  • Record the full bibliographic details and all relevant page numbers of the source from which your information is taken. This information will become the basis of every citation or reference you use.
  • Punctuation marks, spelling, and spaces in references are extremely important and must be applied consistently throughout.
  • In-text citations mean that you insert the consecutive numerical citation at the appropriate place in the text of your document. This could be 
    • near the beginning of a sentence eg. Smith¹ asserts that ...
    • at the end of a sentence eg. If a culture of service accountability is to be established, there must be a reward system as well as a means of enforcement (1).
    • at the end of an entire paragraph about the same topic eg: If a culture of service accountability is to be established, there must be a reward system as well as a means of enforcement. Rewards will stimulate positive reinforcement of behaviour change, whereas enforcement serves only to create an atmosphere of general negativity in the workplace¹.
    • in the middle of a sentence eg: Although the director sets the example for customer service in terms of his/her employees (1), all employees must still take on a sense of individual accountability.
    • Note the position of the full stops or commas in each case.
  • Include a numerical List of References at the end of your research report, dissertation or thesis that incorporates all your in-text citations.

Style Guide Change

This WHSL Guide replaces the reference section in the Faculty of Health Sciences Style Guide for Theses, Dissertations and Resesearch Reports, 3rd ed. 2000.

What is Referencing?

Referencing is a standardised method of acknowledging sources of information or the ideas and work of other people that you have used in the body of your work. This referencing method will identify all sources in a unique manner. Direct quotations, facts and figures, tables and images, from published as well as unpublished works need to be referenced, as do ideas and theories that originate elsewhere (ie. those that are not your own ideas and theories).

The Vancouver style of referencing is used predominantly in the field of health sciences and is a numerical system. Each reference in the text is identified by means of a number, and these numbered references can be identified in full in a numerical list at the end of the entire work (eg. at the end of your research report, dissertation or thesis, or even your assignment or essay).  

Why Reference?

Use of references are important

  • to avoid plagiarism
  • so that quotations can be verified
  • to enable readers to follow up on what you have written
  • to understand in full the work of any authors you may have cited
  • to understand the relevance of the cited work to your work


TurnitIn: Avoiding Plagiarism

Use TurnItIn to check your writing for plagiarism before handing it in. This can be accessed only on Ulwazi where access has been set up on your specific courses. For help, please phone  Wits ICT 0117171717 or email for assistance