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Medicine, Dentistry & Biomedical Sciences: Referencing


When writing assignments and other pieces of academic work, you must reference all sources (i.e. books, journal articles and websites) that have informed your writing. If you don't reference all sources used, you may be penalised for plagiarism, a serious academic offence that could negatively impact your future career.

Below is a general overview of the 2 main reference styles used at Queen's. For more detailed information, check your module handbook or study guide for course-specific referencing instructions.

Handbook or study guide referencing guidance takes precedence over the general information in this guide.

Reference Styles

Referencing involves adding in-text citations to your work, every time you reference someone else's ideas. These citations point to references in a reference list at the end of your work. 

The format of your in-text citations and reference list is determined by the reference style you use. The 2 most common reference styles are introduced below.

All information is taken from the book Cite Them Right (10th edition) by Richard Pears & Graham Shields (2016). Copies of this book may be borrowed from the Library: details are below.

Harvard References

Harvard in-text citations consist of:

  • Author/editor surname
  • Publication year
  • Page numbers (if required)

Here is an example of a Harvard in-text citation:

(Swinglehurst, 2005)

Items in a Harvard reference list appear at the end of your document, arranged alphabetically by author, then (if necessary) chronologically by year. Harvard references consist of different elements, depending on the type of source being referenced:

Journal Articles
  • Author (surname, initials)
  • Publication year (in round brackets)
  • Title of article (in single quotation marks)
  • Title of journal (in italics)
  • Volume and issue (issue in round brackets)
  • Pages (if available)

If you read the article on-line, include:

  • Available at: URL (if required) (Accessed: date) OR doi (if available)

A doi is a Digital Online Identifier, and may be displayed at the start or end of a full-text article.

Here is an example of a Harvard journal article reference:

Swinglehurst, D. (2005) 'Evidence-based guidelines: the theory and the practice', Evidence-based Healthcare and Public Health, 9(4), pp. 308-314. doi: 10.1016/j.ehbc.2005.05.012

  • Author (surname, initials)
  • Publication year (in round brackets)
  • Title (in italics)
  • Edition
  • Place of publication: publisher


Greenhalgh, T. (2014) How to read a paper. 5th edn. Chichester: John Wiley & Sons, Ltd

  • Author
  • Year published/last updated (in round brackets)
  • Title of webpage (in italics)
  • Available at: URL
  • (Accessed: date)


Fallis, R. (2018). An introduction to the library for new medical students. Available at: (Accessed: 7 September 2018).

Vancouver References

Vancouver in-text citations consist of numbers in brackets (or in superscript). important piece of evidence. (1)

Each numbered citation references an item in a reference list at the end of your document, in which references are listed numerically i.e. in the order that they appear in your text.

Unlike Harvard references, Vancouver references contain minimal punctuation.

Like Harvard references, Vancouver references consist of different elements, depending on the type of source:

Journal Articles


Swinglehurst D. Evidence-based guidelines: the theory and the practice. Evidence-based Healthcare and Public Health. 2005 Aug;9(4):308-314.

  • Author/editor
  • Title
  • Edition
  • Place of publication: publisher, year
  • Pages (optional)


Greenhalgh T. How to read a paper. 5th ed. Chichester: John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.

  • Author
  • Title of website
  • [Internet]
  • Year published/last updated
  • [cited year month day]
  • Number of screens or pages
  • Available from: URL


Fallis R. An introduction to the library for new medical students. [Internet]. 2018 [cited 2018 Sep 7]; [4 screens]. Available from: 

Useful Resources