The Vancouver Style is formally known as Recommendations for the Conduct, Reporting, Editing and Publication of Scholarly Work in Medical Journals (ICMJE Recommendations). It was developed in Vancouver in 1978 by editors of medical journals and well over 1,000 medical journals (including ICMJE members BMJ, CMAJ, JAMA & NEJM) use this style. This user guide explains how to cite references in Vancouver Style, both within the text of a paper and in a reference list, and gives examples of commonly used types of references.
ICMJE Recommendations has many optional areas. This guide has been created for The Michener Institute and may differ from styles at other educational institutes and those required by individual journals.
Citations in the Text:
- Placement of citations: In-text citation numbers should be placed after the relevant part of a sentence. The original Vancouver Style documents do not discuss placement of the in-text citation in regards to punctuation, so it is acceptable to place it before or after the period. Be consistent.
- References are numbered consecutively in the order they are first mentioned. Place each reference number in parentheses throughout the text, tables, and legends. If the same reference is used again, re-use the original number. (See number 3 in the box below.)
- Tables are numbered consecutively. Supply a brief title for each table and give each column a short heading. Be sure that the table is mentioned in the text. If the data is taken from another source, include the source in the list of references at the end of the paper. Place explanatory matter in a note, not in the heading.
- Personal communication used as a reference should be avoided, unless it provides essential information not available from a public source. These can be emails, personal interviews, telephone conversations, class notes, class handouts that are not posted, etc. Do not include them in the reference list as they are not recoverable by others; instead cite the name of the person and date of communication in parentheses in the text. (See the John Doe example below.)
- Internet sources may, in time, be deleted, changed, or moved, so it is a good idea to keep a hard copy for your records. Also, take care to critically evaluate the reliability of the information.
Recently, the health sciences community has reduced the bias and imprecision of traditional literature summaries through the development of rigorous criteria for both literature overviews (1-3) and practice guidelines (4,5). Even when recommendations come from such rigorous approaches, however, “it is important to differentiate between those based on weak vs. strong evidence” (6). Recommendations based on inadequate evidence often require reversal when sufficient data become available, (John Doe, April 1, 2002) while timely implementation of recommendations based on strong evidence can save lives (3).
On the References Page:
- The last page of your paper is entitled References. References are single spaced, with double-spacing between references.
- Numbering: List all references in order by number, not alphabetically. Each reference is listed once only, since the same number is used throughout the paper.
- Authors: List each author’s last name followed by a space and then initials without any periods; there is a comma and space between authors and a period at the end of the last author. If the number of authors exceeds six, give the first six followed by “et al.” (see example 3 on next page). For edited books, place the editors’ names in the author position and follow the last editor with a comma and the word editor (or editors). For edited books with chapters written by individual authors, list the authors of the chapter first, then the chapter title, followed by “In:”, the editors’ names, and the book title (see example 7).
- Title: Capitalize the first letter of the first word in the title. The rest of the title is in lower-case, with the exception of proper names. Do not underline the title; do not use italics. If there is an edition for a book, it appears after the title, abbreviated and followed by a period, for example: 3rd ed.
- Publication information: Books: After the title (and edition if applicable), place a period and space, then enter the city. If the city is not well known or there could be confusion, enter the postal abbreviation for the state (U.S.) or province (Canada), or enter the country (elsewhere) of publication, followed by a colon. Give the name of the publisher as it appears in the publication followed by a semicolon. If the author is also the publisher, use part of the name as the publisher, e.g., The Association for publisher if the author is Canadian Medical Association. Give the year of publication followed by a period. If no date of publication can be found, but the publication contains a date of copyright, use the date of copyright preceded by the letter “c”, e.g. c2015.
- Publication information: Journals: List the abbreviated journal title, place a period and a space, year, (and abbreviated month and day if applicable), semi-colon, volume, issue number in parentheses, colon, page range, and a period. For example, Brain Res. 2002;935(1-2):40-6. (The issue number may be omitted if the journal is paginated continuously through the volume.)
To find the journal title abbreviation, go to Medline’s Journals Database and search by journal title. If the title is not found, abbreviate according to the style used for similar titles in Medline.
- Pages: For journals, the entire page range of an article is given, not the specific page on which the information was found; usage is 124-7 (pages 124 to 127) or 215-22 (pages 215 to 222). For books, no page numbers are given, with two exceptions: the page number of a dictionary entry is included (see example 10), as well as the page range of a chapter with its own author (see example 7).
- Information specific to online sources In general, include the same information as you would for print material and then add retrieval information so others can locate the sources.
- Place the word Internet in square brackets after the book title or abbreviated journal title (see examples 2, 8, 9).
- Indicate date of retrieval, preceded by the word “cited”, in square brackets after the date of publication (see example 2).
- Add retrieval information at the end of the citation using the full URL. There is no punctuation at the end of the URL unless it ends with a slash, in which case a period is added (see example 9).
- If a DOI exists, it is optional to add it after the retrieval information (see example 3).
- Include a short note after the URL if special access information is required (see example 12).
See below for reference examples.
For more information on style and lists of examples, consult:
- Recommendations for the Conduct, Reporting, Editing, and Publication of Scholarly Work in Medical Journals (ICMJE Recommendations)
- ICMJE Recommendations – Sample References
- Citing Medicine, 2nd ed.
Note: Bolded headings are for the purposes of this document only; they would not appear on an actual reference page.
Journal article, up to 6 personal author(s):
1. Al-Habian A, Harikumar PE, Stocker CJ, Langlands K, Selway JL. Histochemical and immunohistochemical evaluation of mouse skin histology: comparison of fixation with neutral buffered formalin and alcoholic formalin. J Histotechnol. 2014 Dec;37(4):115-24.
Electronic journal article:
2. Poling J, Kelly L, Chan C, Fisman D, Ulanova M. Hospital admission for community-acquired pneumonia in a First Nations population. Can J Rural Med [Internet]. 2014 Fall [cited 2015 Apr 27];19(4):135-41. Available from: http://www.srpc.ca/14fal.html by selecting PDF link in table of contents.
Electronic journal article, 7 or more personal authors, optional DOI information:
3. Aho M, Irshad B, Ackerman SJ, Lewis M, Leddy R, Pope T, et al. Correlation of sonographic features of invasive ductal mammary carcinoma with age, tumor grade, and hormone-receptor status. J Clin Ultrasound [Internet]. 2013 Jan [cited 2015 Apr 27];41(1):10-7. Available from: http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1002/jcu.21990/full DOI: 10.1002/jcu.21990
Book, personal author(s):
4. Buckingham L. Molecular diagnostics: fundamentals, methods and clinical applications. 2nd ed. Philadelphia: F.A. Davis; c2012.
Book or pamphlet, organization as both author and publisher:
5. College of Medical Radiation Technologists of Ontario. Standards of practice. Toronto: The College; 2011.
6. Kumar V, Abbas AK, Aster JC, editors. Robbins basic pathology. 16th ed. Philadelphia: Elsevier Saunders; c2013.
Book,editor(s), specific chapter with individual author(s):
7. Altobelli N. Airway management. In: Kacmarek R, Stoller JK, Heuer AJ, editors. Egan’s fundamentals of respiratory care. 10th ed. St. Louis: Saunders Mosby; c2013. p. 732-86.
Electronic book, personal author(s), requiring password:
8. Martin A, Harbison S, Beach K, Cole P. An introduction to radiation protection [Internet]. 6th ed. London: Hodder Arnold; 2012 [cited 2015 May 28]. Available from: http://lrc.michener.ca:2048/login?url=http://search.ebscohost.com/login.aspx?direct=true&db=nlebk&AN=466903&site=ehost-live&ebv=EB&ppid=pp_iii with authorized username and password.
Electronic book, organization as author, freely available:
9. OpenStax College. Anatomy & physiology [Internet]. Version 7.28. Houston: The College; 2013 Apr 25 [Updated 2015 May 27; cited 2015 May 28]. Available from: http://cnx.org/content/col11496/latest/.
10. Stedman’s medical dictionary for the health professions and nursing. 7th ed. Philadelphia: Wolters Kluwer/Lippincott Williams & Wilkins; c2012. Hematoma; p. 756.
Entry in a print reference work:
11. Canadian Pharmacists Association. CPS 2013: compendium of pharmaceuticals and specialties. 48th ed. Ottawa: The Association; c2013. Atropine: Systemic; p. 297-9.
Entry in an online reference work:
12. Canadian Pharmacists Association. eCPS. [Internet]. Ottawa: The Association; 2015. Methimazole; [revised 2012 Mar; cited 2015 May 28]; [about 6 screens]. Available from: http://lrc.michener.ca:2048/login/ecps with authorized username and password.
13. Wikipedia: the free encyclopedia [Internet]. St. Petersburg (FL): Wikimedia Foundation, Inc. 2001 – Ebola virus epidemic in West Africa; [modified 2015 May 28; cited 2015 May 28]; [about 34 screens]. Available from: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ebola_virus_epidemic_in_West_Africa
14. Carville O. Health ‘snooping’ cases on the rise. Toronto Star. 2015 May 27:Sect. GT:1 (col. 3).
Electronic newspaper article:
15. Wisniewski M. Five babies at Chicago daycare diagnosed with measles. Globe and Mail [Internet]. 2015 Feb 5 [cited 2015 Feb 6];Life:[about 2 screens]. Available from: http://www.theglobeandmail.com/life/health-and-fitness/health/five-babies-at-chicago-daycare-diagnosed-with-measles-report/article22805944/.
Legal material (note: this is not addressed in Vancouver Style):
16. Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act, S.O. 2005, c.11 [Internet]. 2009 Dec 15 [cited 2015 May 29]. Available from: http://www.e-laws.gov.on.ca/html/statutes/english/elaws_statutes_05a11_e.htm
Report available on a web page:
17. Canadian Institute for Health Information. Depression among seniors in residential care [Analysis in brief on the Internet]. Ottawa: The Institute; 2010 [cited 2015 May 29]. 18 p. Available from: https://secure.cihi.ca/free_products/ccrs_depression_among_seniors_e.pdf
Page on a website:
18. Alzheimer Society of Canada [Internet]. Toronto: The Society; c2015. Benefits of staying active; 2013 Jan 28 [cited 2015 May 29];[about 1 screen]. Available from: http://www.alzheimer.ca/en/kfla/Living-with-dementia/Day-to-day-living/Staying-active/Benefits-of-staying-active
19. Allen S, Waerlop I. The Gait Guys talk about great toe dorsiflexion [Internet]. [place unknown]: The Gait Guys; 2014 May 11 [cited 2015 May 29]. Video: 3 min. Available from: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=E8O8TLtunUQ
20. Bickle I. Swallowed foreign body [radiograph]. 2014 Jul 14 [cited 2015 May 29]. In: Radiopaedia.org [Internet]. [place unknown]: Radiopaedia.org; c2005-2015. [about 1 screen]. Available from: http://radiopaedia.org/cases/swallowed-foreign-body-1
Blog post (no given name, so screen name used as author):
21. Munkee. Nuclear Munkee. [blog on the Internet]. [place unknown]:[Munkee]; [date unknown] – . In-111 pentetreotide imaging; 2013 Mar 19 [cited 2015 May 29]; [about 3 screens]. Available from: http://nuclearmunkee.blogspot.ca/2013/03/in-111-pentetreotide-imaging.html
Poster presentation/session presented at a meeting or conference:
22. Chasman J, Kaplan RF. The effects of occupation on preserved cognitive functioning in dementia. Poster session presented at: Excellence in clinical practice. 4th Annual Conference of the American Academy of Clinical Neuropsychology; 2006 Jun 15-17; Philadelphia, PA.
From Michener’s Academic Integrity Policy and Procedure:
Plagiarism is the portrayal, claiming or use of another person’s work or ideas (sentence, thought, paragraph, intellectual property, data, drawings or images) without specific reference. In the academic world this is considered to be theft. It is dishonest and irresponsible and will result in serious consequences.
As you can see from the quote above, plagiarism is taking, using, and submitting the thoughts, writings, etc., of another person as your own. If a concept or theory is “common knowledge” in the field, e.g., one of the symptoms of measles is a rash, you do not need to provide a reference; if it is not common knowledge or if you are not sure, provide a reference. Examples of concepts that require a reference include discoveries, theories, controversies and opinions. Don’t forget to acknowledge the source of illustrations, charts, and tables of data. For more information, consult Michener’s Avoiding Plagiarism: Why Use References?