Journals LibraryNHS NIHR - National Institute for Health Research
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- Reference Examples
- Latest updates
- Documents, tables and figures guidance
Key to symbols
When including references in your report 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:
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 report, i.e. Chapter 1, 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 is also be cited, even in the Discussion, Summary and Conclusion sections or chapters.
- There is one list of references at the end of the report (never at the end of each chapter). There are a couple of exceptions to this:
- if you have produced a list of excluded studies (with the reasons for their exclusion), none of which are cited individually in the text or tables in the main text of the report. These can then be included, listed alphabetically by first author (and not numbered), in a stand-alone table in an appendix or as a subcategory of the main reference list.
- Systematic reviews should present study-level characteristics as a table, which can then be cited in the report, thus removing the need for numerous references to studies being required at single points of the text. (see The PRISMA Statement for Reporting Systematic Reviews and Meta-Analyses of Studies That Evaluate Health Care Interventions: Explanation and Elaboration for further information)
- The reference list is complete, accurate and does not contain duplicate entries.
- All references are cited and are correct and that none have been cited which 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- Personal communication details and unpublished references should not appear in the reference list.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).
- 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.
- 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  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: https://www.library.ucdavis.edu/guide/endnote/
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 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
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 from interviews are fundamental features of reports 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 which is libellous, defamatory, indecent, obscene or otherwise unlawful
- language which 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, that might otherwise be expressed in language unacceptable to the NIHR as publisher of the report, within the text of the report 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.
As a general principle, people, places and organisations should 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