Vancouver Style Reference Guide

The Vancouver style for citations and references was first proposed in 1978 as a framework for citing and referencing sources in scholarly medical literature. In other words, it was created to help medical researchers publish their works while avoiding any risks of plagiarism. The Vancouver style of referencing was first known as the ICMJE Recommendations. Now thousands of publication and millions of students across the planet follow this style to cite and reference literature sources in their academic works. We have created this Vancouver style guide to help you improve the quality of your writing. Follow our recommendations and look at the examples below to improve your academic results.

ICMJE recommendations cover several important topic areas. We have created this Vancouver style guide to reflect the most important recommendations from the ICMJE report and give you an idea of what it takes to use this style in practice.

In-text Citations:

  • Where citations must be placed: The ICMJE recommendations do not provide any specifics as to where in-text citations should be placed. What is important is using the number which corresponds to the source after that part of the sentence which was taken from that source. You can put the number before or after the period. Just make sure that you follow the same pattern throughout the paper.
  • Numbering references: All references must be numbered consecutively. Numbering will depend on which sources have been first mentioned and used in the body of the paper. Every time the same source is used, it should have the same number. Referencing should be consistent in all text components, no matter if it is a table or a legend.
  • Numbering tables: Tables should also be numbered logically and consecutively. Each table must have a number. Moreover, it must be necessarily mentioned in the body of the paper. When creating a table with borrowed data or incorporating data from external sources, a reference must be included. An explanation must be provided to integrate the table smoothly into the body of the paper.
  • Referencing personal communication: The Vancouver style guide strongly discourages using personal communication as a source of information. Scholarly research and writing cannot rely on email conversations, Skype discussions, or personal interviews. This is why these sources should not be mentioned in the text, and they should not be included in the list of references.
  • Referencing online sources:  It is always a good idea to have hard copies of all sources used. This is also the case of Internet sources which can be deleted or moved to a different location. Use only credible and reliable sources of information.

Creating a Reference Page:

  • References will always come as the very last page of the paper. They will have to be single-spaced. Double spacing should be used between each entry.
  • Numbering references: The uniqueness of the Vancouver style is that it requires referencing sources by number rather than by alphabetical order. Each reference will have a number, and this same number will be used every time the reference is mentioned in the text.
  • Authors: The name of each author should begin with the last name, followed by a single space, and the initials. The initial should not have any periods. Between the last names of the authors insert a comma and a space. A period should be used after the name of the last author. If more than six authors have written the source, you will mention the first six ones, followed by "et al." If you are using a chapter from an edited book, you will need to include the word "editors" after the last author's name. If the author of this chapter is not the same as the author of the entire book, then you will list the author's name first, followed by the title of the chapter and then the names of the book authors with the word "editors".
  • Title: The first letter of the first word in the title must be capitalized. All other words in the title will be typed without capitalization. The title should never be underlined. No italics is allowed.
  • Books: Begin with the author and title of the book, followed by edition, place of publication, and year. If you are not sure, where the book was published or in what city the publisher is currently located, it is appropriate to use state and country or province. The name of the publisher must be provided exactly the way it appears in the book. It should be followed by a semicolon. If the name of the author and the publisher coincide, it is appropriate to use part of that name as a reference to the publisher information. For example, if the American Nurses Association is the author and the publisher, it is enough to use the word "Association" when referencing the publisher. The date of publication must also be included. It must be followed by a period.
  • Journals: The journal title must be provided in an abbreviated form, followed by a period, a space, and year of publication. Then, after the semi-colon, the reference must include the volume, issue number, and page numbers, followed by a period. For instance, JAMA Intern Med. 2015; 343(12):11-15. If the journal uses consecutive pagination throughout each volume, issue number may not be used. Abbreviated journal titles can be located online or in scholarly databases.
  • Page numbers: All journal articles must be referenced using the entire page range for each of them. For example, 343-7 or 92-7. No page numbers should be provided for books, except for the cases when a separate chapter was used or when the information comes from a dictionary.
  • Referencing online sources:  Online resources should be referenced using the same information as other printed and non-printed sources:
  •             The word [Internet] must be included in square brackets to indicate that the source     was found online.
  •             Date of retrieval must also be included, after the word "cited". It must follow the date of publication.
    • A full URL must also be present to make sure that readers can retrieve the information used and mentioned in the body of the paper. No punctuation at the end of the URL is allowed.
    • It is also possible to include the DOI number for academic resources if they were taken from an online database.
    • A note should be made if an URL cannot be accessed without login and password.

How to Avoid Plagiarism

Plagiarism means that you have used some information from an external source without crediting its author. It can be anything, from text and statistical data to a picture or a table. Plagiarism is synonymous to intellectual property violations and a theft. It can lead to severe legal and ethical consequences.

In other words, plagiarism is everything taken from other writers or authors without mentioning their names. It means that the student or the research has presented someone else's idea as his or her own. Unless the information provided is common knowledge (e.g. the earth revolves around the sun), it must be followed by a properly formatted reference. All theories and concepts must also be referenced. Make sure that you follow the aforementioned recommendations to avoid plagiarism in writing!