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Nursing: Writing references

Writing References

Proper referencing is critical. Your writing should always include accurate references to:

  • acknowledge the sources you have used to establish your arguments and criticisms and inform your ideas
  • enable other people to identify and trace the sources you have used
  • demonstrate the breadth of your reading and research
  • help to avoid charges of plagiarism because it makes clear when you are using someone else's ideas and words.

There are three components to citing references

  1. The Citation. This is the way you acknowledge i.e.cite the source in your text. Depending on the referencing style you are using this may appear as the author name and year in brackets e.g. (Jones 2016) as a number e.g. [1] or as a footnote. (See below for more about styles)
  2. The Reference. This comprises the details of the source that you have cited.
  3. The Reference List or Bibliography. This is a list of the references you have used or consulted and appears at the end of your work.

There is a preferred referencing style for most subject areas within the University. Please see below for details.

A range of referencing styles are used in different subject areas within the University. Mostly you will a single style but if you study modules in different subject areas you may need to use more than one.

See the list below to find the style you should use. If your subject or Faculty does not appear in the list, contact the Library or your tutor for advice.

Also consult your module handbooks to check for any special requirements.

Click the tabs for guidance on your style and an example of a reference list in your subject area.

Aquaculture Harvard Stirling University 
BES (Biology & Environmental Science) including Geography Harvard Stirling University
Communications, Media & Culture (film & media studies, journalism)

Harvard Stirling University (from Sept 2020)

Computing Science IEEE
Education Harvard Stirling University
English Chicago 16th edition (Notes & Bibliography)
Health Sciences (nursing, health visiting and paramedic science) Harvard Stirling University



Languages (French, Spanish, Translation)

Chicago 16th edition (Notes & Bibliography)


Harvard Stirling University

Management Harvard Stirling University
Philosophy Harvard Stirling University
Politics Harvard Stirling University
Psychology APA 6th edition
Religious Studies Chicago 16th edition (Notes & Bibliography)

Harvard Stirling University for some courses (including UG Sports Studies) 

APA 6th edition for some courses

Please check with your Programme Director if unsure which. 

Social Sciences (dementia studies, sociology, social policy, criminology, social work) Harvard Stirling University


The APA citation style is an author-date referencing style provided in the American Psychological Association's rules and conventions for documenting sources used in your research.

See the documents below for guidance on using the APA  style and an example of what a reference list might look like. 

Additionally you may wish to consult the APA Publication Manual which provides provides complete style guidelines and further examples (available in print in the Library) or refer to the APA frequently asked questions webpage and APA Blog. Some basic principles from the Publication Manual can be seen in the online Style and Grammar Guidelines.

APA 6th or 7th Edition?

Note: Most guidance provide here relates to the 6th edition but one or two guides are to the 7th edition. There are some differences between 6th & 7th - especially for citing multiple authors so take care to keep to one edition or the other. RefWorks and EndNote software currently use 6th edition - we will update this information once the choice of 7th edition is available as an option.

Harvard is a commonly used author name and date referencing style and is adopted widely in the University.The  Harvard Stirling University style has been developed to provide guidance to students and for use within RefWorks.

See the documents below for guidance on using the Harvard Stirling University style and examples of what reference lists might look like.

You may find Harvard Stirling University Examples (including guidance for RefWorks) especially helpful as this provides a list of document types e.g. Book chapters, Journal Articles, Blogs, Web Pages, TV programmes etc. with details of what information you need for the reference as well as and example of how to cite it in your text and enter it in your reference list (bibliography).

The IEEE style is a numeric system, where citations are numbered in your text within square brackets e.g. [1]. The citation in your text corresponds to a full reference in the list of references at the end of your work. To acknowledge paraphrased ideas the citation number(s) should appear on the same line as the text inside any punctuation.

All references must have their own number. It is not permissible to use one number to cite multiple sources.

Reuse the same number for all subsequent citations of the same source.

Here are a few examples of how citations might appear:

... as demonstrated by Smith [4] and Brown and Jones [5].

... as mentioned earlier [2], [4]–[7], [9] a number of studies have investigated these issues

Multiple authors. If you mention the author name(s) as part of your sentence give both names if there are only two. If there are 3 or more authors give only the first name followed by et al. e.g. ... Wood et al. [7] suggested an alternative approach.

Add page numbers and other pinpoints to specific ideas to the citation number within the square brackets e.g.:

[3, pp. 5-10]

[3, Fig. 1]

[3, Algorithm 5]

A section of text with in-text citations might look like:

This leads to greater needs of probabilistic analysis tools, both for system planning [1] and for the daily system operation. From the first proposals in the 1970s [2], a great deal of literature can be found about it. The most straightforward method of solving this problem is Monte Carlo simulation [1, pp. 6-7].

The reference list appears at the end of your work in number order e.g.:

[1] F. P. Brooks, The Mythical Man-Month: Essays on Software Engineering, Anniversary ed. Boston: Addison-Wesley, 1995.

[2] T. DeMarco and T. R. Lister, Peopleware: Productive Projects and Teams, 2nd ed. New York: Dorset House Publications, 1999.

[3] M. Fowler, UML Distilled: A Brief Guide to the Standard Object Modeling Language, 3rd ed. Boston: Addison-Wesley, 2004.

[4] J. Seguel, “The doctoral program in Computing and Information Sciences and Engineering of the University of Puerto Rico,” Future Gener. Comp. Sy., vol. 19, no. 8, pp. 1293–1298, 2003.

See the guides below for more detail including formatting rules for each reference type e.g. books, chapters,  journal articles etc., abbreviations for journal articles and other words and a fuller example of what a reference list might look like.

You may also wish to consult the IEEE Editorial Style Manual. Section V provides further advice and guidance.

OSCOLA is a legal referencing style which has citations in footnotes and a full reference list at the end of the document.

See the documents below for guidance on using OSCOLA and consult the OSCOLA Help pages for further information e.g. citing sources from foreign jurisdictions.

Common abbreviations and terms used in references:

Here is an explanation of some commonly used abbreviations.

IMPORTANT - not all referencing styles use these abbreviations e.g. OSCOLA for legal citation forbids use of all Latin abbreviations except ibid.

app. appendix
col. column (plural, cols.)
comp. compiler (plural, comps.)
ed. edition; edited by; editor (plural, eds.)
et al. et alii : Latin for 'and others'
ibid. ibidem : Latin for 'in the same place'. This word can only be used in 
the next consecutive reference in a list after an earlier reference to the same work.
For example :
1. Leggett, J. The carbon war: global warming and the end of the oil era
2nd edition. London, Penguin, 2000.
2. ibid. p. 65
3. Ledwith, S. and Manfredi, S. Balancing gender in higher education - a study of the experience of 
senior women in a 'new' UK university. European Journal of Women's Studies, 7 (1), 2000. pp. 7-33
4. ibid.
n.d. no date (of publication known)
n.p. no place (of publication known)
no. number (plural nos.) In America, the symbol # is often used
op. cit. opere citato : Latin for 'in the work cited' 
For example :
1. Brennan, A.A. Environmental decision making. In: Berry, R. J. ed. 
Environmental dilemmas: ethics and decisions. London, Chapman and Hall, 1993. pp. 1-19.
2. Leggett, J. The carbon war: global warming and the end of the oil era
2nd edition. London, Penguin, 2000. pp. 25-27
3. Brennan, A.A. op. cit. p. 45
p. page (plural pp.)
para. paragraph
supp. supplement (plural, supps.)
Trans. translator ; translated by
vol. volume (plural, vols.)

See the Referencing and avoiding plagiarism module in Canvas for more guidance about plagiarism and more help with referencing. This is brought to you by Student Learning Services 

Referencing Software

Referencing software helps you to collect and organise references and automatically generate a reference list (bibliography). The University provides RefWorks and EndNote. EndNote is mostly used by staff and PhD students.

NEW RefWorks

If you have not tried RefWorks before or are starting a new piece of work you may wish to try the New version of RefWorks which has enhanced features including importing PDFs, 

Get more help and guides at:

Register and login at: 

Books on Referencing

Search for books on referencing in the Library Catalogue or check the shelves at class mark K 8.135.