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Vancouver Referencing

Vancouver is a numbering system for referencing that is frequently used in science and medicine. Among other scientific areas, the biomedical field frequently uses the Vancouver referencing system. Every time a source is referenced in Vancouver style, a reference number is included in the text:

Robert et al. state that the database is ‘unreliable’ (2, p. 20).

This number refers to an element in your reference list, which is a numbered list of all the references you cited in your text and provides comprehensive information about each one:

  1. Davies B, Jameson P. Advanced economics. Oxford: Oxford University Press; 2013.

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In-text Citations 

Citations should be indicated in your text using numbers in Vancouver style. Either parenthesis or superscript is used to indicate these numbers; pick one and use it consistently all over your work of citation:

Superscript numbering citation Davies (3) argues that …
Parenthesis numbering citation Davies3 argues that …

The numbers typically follow the author's name or a straight quote. They might also show up at the conclusion of the phrase:

A Shortage of iron can cause Anemia in your body (4).

Credits to Author: Naming Author

When introducing a quote or mentioning a work, you will frequently need to give credit to the author. In your paragraph, just use the author's last name. If a source includes more than one author, only the first author should be listed, then "et al."

Robert et al. (2) suggest that …

When citing a source, you do not always need to include the author's name; nevertheless, you should always give the source's reference number:

The general collective analysis (15) shows that …

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References With Numbers 

The first source you quote is numbered 1, the second is marked 2, and so on. The numbers correspond to the sequence in which they are cited in the text.

If a source is referenced more than once, make sure to keep track of it by the same number. This indicates that the numbers in your text might not be presented in a sequential order:

Robert et al. (1) analyze that Anemia is a serious global public health problem that particularly affects young children and pregnant women. However, WHO estimates (2) that 42% of children less than 5 years of age and 40% of pregnant women worldwide are anemic (1, p. 20). 

Multiple Sources Citation

Multiple sources may be cited in one place as well:

General analysis (3, 7) indicates several new aspects.

Use an en dash to indicate the range when citing multiple sources that follow one another in your numbered list.

There is a team of researchers (3, 6-9) working on this case study.

Sources 3, 6, 7, 8, and 9 are mentioned in this reference.

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Referencing Page Numbers

When you explicitly quote from a text, you must include a page number or range; it might also be useful to include this information when you are paraphrasing a specific quote.

After the reference number, put the page number in the same parenthesis, followed by the letter "p."

Anemia is an indicator of both poor nutrition and poor health (3, p. 400).

The page number will also be in superscript if you're using those, and it will follow the reference number in brackets:

Iron deficiency anemia has also been shown to affect cognitive and physical development in children and reduce productivity in adults.6 (p. 459)

Making a Vancouver Reference List

The information of your work is the one your readers will need to go through, to check the sources you credit in your writing can be found in your reference list. It consists of a list of all of your sources, numbered, with pertinent details like the author, title, and date of publication of each one.

At the end of your paper, the list is presented in numerical order. Unless a DOI or URL is the final element, each item ends with a full stop.

Example of Vancouver Reference List

  1. Wilkinson IB, Raine T, Wiles K, Goodhart A, Hall C, O’Neill H. Oxford handbook of clinical medicine. 10th ed. Oxford University Press; 2017.
  1. Darden L. Mechanisms and models. In: Hull DL, Ruse M, editors. The Cambridge companion to the philosophy of biology. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press; 2008. p. 139-159.
  1. Bute M. A backstage sociology: Autoethnography and a populist vision. Am Soc. 2016 Mar 23; 47(4):499-515. Available from:     https://link.springer.com/article/10.1007/s12108-016-9307-z doi:10.1007/s12108-016-9307-z
  1. Cancer Research UK. Current research into breast cancer [Internet]. 2022 [cited 2022 Jun 28]. Available from: https://www.cancerresearchuk.org/our-research-by-cancer-type/our-research-into-breast-cancer 
  1. Breast Cancer [Internet]. 2022 [cited 2022 Jun 28]. Available from: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Breast_cancer 

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Names of Authors 

The author's last name and surname appear at the beginning of each entry.

Authors' names are separated with commas when there are many authors listed for a source. List the first six authors of a source (if there are more than six), then add "et al."

One author Robert J.
More than one author  Robert J, David GH.
7+ authors  Robert J, David GH, Empson A, Harrison R, Petter J, James G, Pollard, et al. 

Source Titles

Vancouver referencing consistently uses simple text for titles. Avoid using quotation marks or italics. The title and subtitle's first word, together with any given proper nouns, are only capitalized once:

Methods in taking care of the patient and managing patients with acute pain.

The most popular Vancouver style referencing guidelines are all presented above in this short reference. It should be noted that various academic institutions and publications have their own standards for the format of Vancouver references.

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