Journals Library

References and examples

When including references in your paper, you must ensure that:

  • References are in Vancouver style (numbered consecutively with superscript numbers in the order in which they are first mentioned in the text). For example:

1. Macran S, Wileman S, Barton G, Russell I. The development of a new measure of quality of life in the management of gastro-oesophageal reflux disease: the REFLUX questionnaire. Qual Life Res 2006. Published online 11 October 2006.

 See more reference examples.

  • Up to six authors are quoted in full followed by et al.
  • Numbering starts in the main text of the paper, i.e. not in the abstract or scientific summary
  • Superscript numbers should be positioned after the punctuation in the text
  • Whenever a study is cited, its corresponding reference number must also be cited, even in the Discussion, Summary and Conclusion sections or chapters
  • There is one list of references at the end of the paper (never at the end of each chapter). There are a couple of exceptions to this:
  • The reference list is complete, accurate and does not contain duplicate entries
  • All references are cited, are correct and none have been cited that are not included in the reference list (this can occur with references cited in tables and figures)
  • Journal abbreviations are those used by Medline. If you are in any doubt about the correct abbreviation, give the journal title in full
  • Personal communication details and unpublished references should not appear in the reference list
  • Acts of Parliament should be referenced (see the Reference Examples page for examples)
  • If there is no DOI available then the URLs cited in the text or reference list should have an associated last accessed date


Although the NIHR Journals Library template is not available on EndNote, the production house have produced a template file, which is available for you to download. Provided the data are set up in EndNote correctly, this template should enable you to automatically produce correctly formatted references in the reference list in most cases. 

EndNote guidance

  • Authors who have imported NIHR Journals Library RIS files should use EndNote’s ‘Find Reference Updates’ feature to copy the full journal title into the ‘Journal’ field
  • Sometimes citations will be attributed to authors such as ‘Health Do’ and ‘Committee SPIA’ (instead of ‘Department of Health’ and ‘Scientific Pandemic Influenza Advisory Committee’ respectively). To make EndNote treat an author name as a single unit rather than reformatting it as surname and initials, add a comma at the end of the text in the field (e.g. ‘Scientific Pandemic Influenza Advisory Committee,’). The comma will not appear in the displayed reference list, but the group name will not be reformatted
  • In this template, court cases e.g. ‘Gillick v. West Norfolk and Wisbech Area Health Authority [1985] 3 All ER 402.’ are formatted using Endnote’s fields as Case Name [Year Decided] Reporter Volume Court Docket Number. The year (in this example, 1985) is encoded as ‘Year Decided’, the volume (3) is ‘Reporter Volume’, the court details (All ER) are in the ‘Court’ field and the case number (402) is contained in ‘Docket Number’
  • NIHR Journals style is to use abbreviated journal titles. EndNote can translate between full and abbreviated journal titles using its Journals Term Lists (separate from the template). The Medical term list contains the official short titles from the Index Medicus. Instructions for enabling term lists are available here:


If you are using Zotero referencing software instead of EndNote, we have created a CSL style for references in the NIHR Journals Library. It is available in the Zotero Style Repository and can be downloaded from here.

RIS file for common references

An RIS file is available for you to download, which provides the entries for common references used in NIHR Journals Library reports. These RIS entries have been optimised for EndNote so please be aware that other citation managers may differ in which fields they use for information such as ‘date accessed’. Download RIS file for common references.

References in tables and figures

Studies mentioned in all figures, tables and forest plots should be referenced. If possible, references cited in tables/figures should also be cited in the main text (the final position of tables and figures in the formatted text may result in references being cited out of order, thus requiring extensive renumbering).

Where references are cited in tables and figures, these should include the reference number as well as the author name(s).

We understand that some reference management software cannot reference figures and forest plots, therefore in this instance, a temporary reference list should be added above or below each figure/forest plot that requires referencing. The list should include the full references for the studies in the figure. Please note that our production house will use this temporary list to redraw the figures with superscript reference numbers during the production process. Once the figures have been redrawn, the temporary reference list will be removed and the references amalgamated with the main ‘References’ section.

References to unpublished work

References to personal communications should only be cited in the text (name of the person, affiliation and date of communication) and not as a formal numbered reference. You should obtain permission from the source to cite personal communications and include a copy of this when submitting your report.

References to papers accepted but not yet published should be designated ‘in press’ in the reference list (however, you must have obtained written permission from the journals to cite these papers).

Papers not yet in press should be treated as personal communications.

References to ‘grey literature’, e.g. a department’s audit report, or other internal reports, may be included in the reference list provided they can be properly identified (authors, full title of report, department/organisation, year, etc.), and, if appropriate, labelled ‘unpublished’.

Verbatim quotations

Verbatim quotations from interviews are fundamental features of papers on qualitative research that seek to explore respondents’ views and experiences and to discover the meaning they attach to words and concepts: by, for example, identifying persistent themes, common narratives and forms of discussion. However, quotations should not be included as a substitute for analysis. They should be used to illustrate a point, rather than to make it. Authors should select quotations rather than report them in their entirety.

Particular attention should be given to ensure that verbatim quotations do not contain:

  • language that is libellous, defamatory, indecent, obscene or otherwise unlawful
  • language that is culturally sensitive or which could cause offence to any individual(s) or organisation(s)
  • proprietary or brand names

Authors are encouraged to explain the strength of feeling, which might otherwise be expressed in language unacceptable to the NIHR as publisher of the paper, within the text of the paper itself. Such an explanation may well include an appreciation of the use of different colloquial terms in different contexts. Please note that profanities or coarse language included in reports may be subject to redaction.

Our policy is for people, places and organisations to be anonymised. If anonymisation is neither possible nor desirable, authors should ensure that they have permission from those affected to use the content to be included BEFORE submission of the final report.

Verbatim quotations should be indented and formatted as follows:

        Trust, Dir of Finance: text of quote in italics.
        Interviewer: text of quote in italics.
        PA11 – Hospital care: text of quote in italics.

For more information about how references should be written please see Reference examples and refer to the Uniform requirements for manuscripts submitted to biomedical journals

Reference Examples

Journal articles

Macran S, Wileman S, Barton G, Russell I. The development of a new measure of quality of life in the management of gastro-oesophageal reflux disease: the reflux questionnaire. Qual Life Res 2006. Published online 11 October 2006.

Brooks R, with the EuroQol Group. EuroQol – a new facility for the measurement of health-related quality of life. Health Policy1990;16:199–208.

Sargent A, Bailey A, Turner A, Almonte M, Gilham C, Baysson H, et al.Optimal cut-off for positive Hybrid Capture 2 Test for the detection of human papillomavirus: data from the ARTISTIC trial. J Clin Microbiol 2012;in press.


Mazmanian SK, Ton-That H, Schneewind X. Sortase-catalysed anchoring of surface proteins to the cell wall of Staphylococcus aureus. Mol Microbiol 2001;40:1049–57.

Epub ahead of print

Kozyrskyj AL, Ernst P, Becker AB. Increased risk of childhood asthma from antibiotic use in early life [published online ahead of print April 5 2007]. Chest 2007. Accessed April 16, 2007

Kozyrskyj AL, Ernst P, Becker AB. Increased risk of childhood asthma from antibiotic use in early life [published online ahead of print April 5 2007]. Chest 2007.


Harnan S, Uttley L, Tappenden P, Cantrell A. Colistimethate sodium powder and tobramycin powder for inhalation for the treatment of pseudomonas lung infection in cystic fibrosis. PROSPERO 2011:CRD42011001350. Available from:

Foreign-language journal article

Valencia Martin J, Climent Paya VE, Marin Ortuno F, Monmeneu Menadas JV, Martinez Martinez JG, Garcia Martinez M, et al. [The efficacy of scheduled cardioversion in atrial fibrillation. Comparison of two schemes of treatment: electrical versus pharmacological cardioversion.] Rev Esp Cardiol 2002;55:113–20.


Hunskaar S, Vinsnes A. The quality of life in women with urinary incontinence as measured by the sickness impact profile. J Am Geriatr Soc 1991;39:378–82. [Erratum published in J Am Geriatr Soc 1992;40:976–7.]


Hunskaar S, Vinsnes A. The quality of life in women with urinary incontinence as measured by the sickness impact profile. J Am Geriatr Soc 1991;39:378–82. [Corrigendum published in J Am Geriatr Soc 1992;40:976–7.]

Cochrane Database Systematic Review

Kuschel CA, Harding JE. Multicomponent fortified human milk for promoting growth in preterm infants. Cochrane Database Syst Rev 2004;1:CD000343. [OR Cochrane Database Syst Rev 2004; Issue 1, Art No. CD000343.]

Hay-Smith EJ, Bø K, Berghmans LC, Hendriks HJ, de Bie RA, van Waalwijk van Doorn ES. Pelvic floor muscle training for urinary incontinence in women. Cochrane Database Syst Rev 2001;1:CD001407.


Wiklund I, Bigard MA, Grace E, Talley NJ, Kamm M, Veldhuyzen van Zanten S, et al. Quality of life in reflux and dyspepsia patients. Psychometric documentation of a new disease-specific questionnaire (QOLRAD). Eur J Surg 1998;164(Suppl. 583):41–9. [OR Eur J Surg 1998;164:S41–9.]


Burton G. Active vaginal cones therapy: a new form of treatment for genuine stress incontinence. Proceedings of the International Continence Society (ICS), 23rd Annual Meeting, 8–11 September 1993, Rome, Italy, abstract no. 134.


Nunnally JC. Psychometric theory. 2nd edn. New York, NY: McGraw-Hill; 1978.

Jolliffe IT. Principal component analysis. New York, NY: Springer; 1996.

Chapter in book

Horne R. Treatment perceptions and self-regulation. In Cameron LD, Leventhal H, editors. Self-regulation of health and illness behaviour. New York, NY: Routledge; 2003. pp. 138–53.


Joint Formulary Committee. British National Formulary. [edition number] ed. London: BMJ Group and Pharmaceutical Press; [year of publication]

Meeting or presentation

Kind P, Chuang LH, Macran S. SF-36 and EQ-5D: a simple and original solution to the complexities of conversion. International Society for Pharmaeconomics and Outcomes Research (ISPOR), 12th Annual International Meeting, Arlington, VA, 19–23 May 2007.

Shepherd J, White I, Rees R, Thomas J, Brunton G, Harden A, et al. A systematic comparison of different sets of quality assessment criteria in systematic reviews of effectiveness in health promotion. Paper presented at the XI Cochrane Colloquium, Barcelona, October 2003.

Technical report / discussion paper

Hahn GH, Shapiro SS. A catalogue and computer programme for the design and analysis of orthogonal symmetric and asymmetric fractional factorial experiments. Technical report no. 66-C-165. Schenectady, NY: General Electric Research and Development Center; 1966.

Kind P, Hardman G, Macran S. UK population norms for EQ-5D. Centre for Health Economics discussion paper 172. York: Centre for Health Economics, University of York; 1999.


The Suzy Lamplugh Trust. Working safely in other people’s homes. London: The Suzy Lamplugh Trust; 2002.

White paper / Green paper

In text: Working together to safeguard children

In references: Department of Health. Public Health White Paper. Choosing health: making healthier choices easier. London: HMSO; 2004.


Smith J. Title of thesis. PhD thesis. Edinburgh: University of Edinburgh; 2009.

Gregory CR. Assessing amenability to treatment in community corrections: creating a valid and reliable instrument for male batterers. Dissertation Abstracts International Section A: Humanities and Social Sciences 2004;65:1992-a.

Newspaper article

Cracknell D, Porter A. Brown set for new tax bombshell. Sunday Times, 31 August 2003, p. 1.

Press release

National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence. Latest NICE guidance sets new standards for treating depression in children and young people. Press release, 28 September 2005.

UK Act of Parliament

Great Britain. National Health Service and Community Care Act 1990: Elizabeth II. Chapter 19. London: The Stationery Office; 1990.

Great Britain. National Health Service and Community Care Act 1990. London: The Stationery Office; 1990.


Venables W, Smith D. An introduction to R: a programming environment for data analysis and graphics. Version 2.2.0; 2005. URL:

Sloane NJA. A library of orthogonal arrays. URL: Accessed July 2006.

Muruve NA, Steinbecker K, Willard TB. Transurethral needle ablation of the prostate (TUNA). Emedicine, 2005. (accessed March 2006).

Camm AJ. Best practices for atrial fibrillation ablation. Medscape; 2006. URL: (accessed 1 June 2007).