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Understanding The Vancouver And The Harvard Referencing Systems . AJAI R. SINGH M.D. EDITOR, MENS SANA MONOGRAPHS http://www.msmonographs.org PSYCHIATRIST ADITI HOSPITAL, MULUND, MUMBAI. 1. Why The Name Vancouver?.

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understanding the vancouver and the harvard referencing systems

Understanding The Vancouver And The Harvard Referencing Systems







1 why the name vancouver
1. Why The Name Vancouver?
  • 1968: Seattle. Eminent nephrologist Belding Scribner’s secretary Augusta Litwer, grew tired of retyping his papers.
  • Why retype?
  • The references format had to be changed when a paper rejected by one journal had to be submitted to another journal with different requirements.
2 why the name vancouver
2. Why The Name Vancouver?
  • The chief medical librarian at the University of Washington Medical School, Gerald G Oppenheimer, advised Litwer to write to the editors of AIM, JAMA, and NEJM asking them why they could not have the same format for references?
3 why the name vancouver
1968-69: Those editors and others met at the American Federation for Clinical Research meeting in Atlantic City.

1970: They finally agreed to use the formats of Index Medicus specified by the National Library of Medicine (NLM). Eighteen journals signed on to this agreement.

3.Why The Name Vancouver?
4 why the name vancouver
4. Why The Name Vancouver?
  • Early 1970s: John F. Murray, then editor of American Review of Respiratory Disease, was attending a meeting of editors at NLM.
  • He raised the question why journals could not agree on standards for manuscripts, particularly formats for bibliographic references.
  • Apparently, he was not aware of the Atlantic City agreement.
5 why the name vancouver
5. Why The Name Vancouver?

May 1976: AIM Editor Edward J. Huth and British Medical Journal Editor Stephen Lock met at the third general assembly of the European Life Science Editors (now European Association of Science Editors) and discussed the possibility of an international agreement on reference formats.

6 why the name vancouver
6. Why The Name Vancouver?
  • 1978: John Murray, Therese Southgate of JAMA, and Huth organized a meeting of editors. Lock suggested a “neutral ground” for developing an international, trans-Atlantic agreement.
  • So in 1978 the group met in Vancouver, British Columbia.
7 why the name vancouver
7. Why The Name Vancouver?
  • The group called itself the International Steering Committee, a name that was later changed to the International Committee of Medical Journal Editors (ICMJE).
  • Because of its original meeting place, however, the ICMJE has often been called “the Vancouver group”.
8 why the name vancouver
8. Why The Name Vancouver?
  • The main topic at the 1978 meeting was formats for references, a topic that had been contentious for years.
  • Huth urged adopting the American National Standards Institute (ANSI) standard.
  • Several other editors disagreed.
  • Eventually, the group decided that NLM would define the formats for references.
9 why the name vancouver
9.Why The Name Vancouver?
  • NLM based its recommended formats on the ANSI standard, which itself was based on Anglo-American cataloging rules, providing a truly trans-Atlantic basis.
  • A compromise was that cooperating journals would not be obliged to use the format of the submitted paper in their published articles.
10 why the name vancouver
10.Why The Name Vancouver?
  • What were the earlier controversies in the ICMJE?
  • Earlier controversies related to the URM involved surprisingly heated arguments on reference formats (for example, the use of the “Harvard system” of citing references or the numerical system)
  • And on other style issues, such as units of measure and abbreviations.
shift of focus
Shift Of Focus
  • Mid1980s: The ICMJE shifted focus to ethical issues facing authors and editors like:
  • Listing people as authors when work was done by others,
  • Duplicate publication
  • Scientific fraud.
the vancouver style
The Vancouver Style

Commonly used in medical and scientific journals.

Reference list identifies references cited (eg. book, journal article, pamphlet, internet site, cassette tape or film) in sufficient detail so that others may locate and consult the references.

• The reference list appears

1. at the end of the essay/report with the entries

2. listed numerically and

3. in the same order that they have been cited in the text.

vancouver style15
Vancouver Style

**In the Vancouver Style, citations within the text of your essay/paper are identified by Arabic numbers in round brackets.

This applies to references in text, tables and figures.

e.g. (2)

This is the style used by the referencing software Endnote.

vancouver style examples
Vancouver Style Examples
  • For Books without editor
  • 1. Getzen TE. Health economics: fundamentals and flow of funds. New York (NY): John Wiley & Sons; 1997.
  • For Books with Editor
  • 2. Millares M, editor. Applied drug information: strategies for information management. Vancouver,WA: Applied Therapeutics, Inc.; 1998.
  • For Books with Editions
  • 3. Australian Government Publishing Service. Style manual for authors, editors and printers. 5th ed. Canberra: Australian Government Publishing Service; 1994.
vancouver style17
Vancouver Style
  • For Book Chapters [with edition] and a series
  • 4. Bennett GL, Horuk R. Iodination of chemokines for use in receptor binding analysis. In: Horuk R, editor. Chemokine receptors. New York (NY): Academic Press; 1997. p. 134-48. (Methods in enzymology; vol 288).
  • Editorial in a journal
  • 6. Coffee drinking and cancer of the pancreas [editorial]. BMJ 1981;283:628.
vancouver style18
Vancouver Style
  • For Journal articles
  • Russell FD, Coppell AL, Davenport AP. In vitro enzymatic processing of radiolabelled big ET-1 in human kidney as a food ingredient. Biochem Pharmacol 1998;55:697-701.
harvard style
Harvard Style
  • “Harvard Style” is a generic term for any referencing style which uses 1. in-text references such as (Smith, 1999) and 2. a reference list at the end of the document organised by author name and year of publication. There is no manual of the “Harvard Style”
  • There are many versions of the “Harvard Style”.
  • For example, the commonly used APA Style is a “Harvard Style”.
apa style
APA Style
  • 1. For Books without Editor
  • Berkman, R. I. (1994). Find it fast: How to uncover expert information. New York: Harper Perennial.
  • 2. For Book chapter [with Editor]
  • Bernstein, D. (1995). Transportation planning. In W. F. Chen (Ed.), The Civil Engineering Handbook. (pp.159-196). Boca Raton: CRC Press.
apa style21
APA Style
  • 3. For Article in periodical [Not Journal]
  • Cook, D. (2002, January 28). All in the mind. The Age, p. 8.
  • 4. Book in several editions
  • DeHart, G. B., Alan Sroufe, L., Cooper, R. G. (1995). Child development : its nature and course (4th ed.). Boston: McGraw-Hill.
  • 5. Journal Articles [retrieved from…]
  • Doherty, N. (2000). Managing careers into the 21st century. Journal of Occupational and Organizational Psychology, 73, 387-388. Retrieved August 16, 2000, from Proquest Academic Research Library Database.
apa style22
APA Style
  • 6. Journal article [Electronic version]
  • Griffith, T. L. (1993). Monitoring and performance: a comparison of computer & supervisor monitoring [Electronic version]. Journal of Applied Social Psychology, 23, 549-572.
  • 7. Usual Journal article
  • Huffman, L. M. (1996). Processing whey protein for use as a food ingredient. Food Technology, 50 (2), 49-52.
msm style modified harvard
MSM Style [Modified Harvard]
  • Monograph series
  • Since both a journal and a book [ISBN and ISSN], follows the Harvard system
  • All References should be bunched together in alphabetical order at the end of the submission.
msm style
MSM Style
  • 1. For two or more references from the same author/authors in the same year, (a) and (b) maybe used after the year of publication. For example:
  • Woodruff T., (2004a), Letters: The medical profession and the pharmaceutical industry: when will we open our eyes? eMJA, 181:8, p458-459.
  • Woodruff T.G., (2004b), Pharmaceutical marketing, the PBS, and patient care, New Doctor, 81, p21-22.
msm style25
MSM Style
  • 2. For Editorials:
  • Angell M., (2000), Is Academic Medicine for Sale? (Editorial), N. Engl. J. Med., 342 (20), p1516-1518.
  • 3. For Articles:
  • Schafer A., (2004), Biomedical conflicts of interest: a defence of the sequestration thesis-learning from the cases of Nancy Olivieri and David Healy, J. Med. Ethics, 30, p8-24.
msm style26
MSM Style
  • 4. For Books and Monographs:
  • i) Angell M., (2004),The truth about the drug companies: how they deceive us and what to do about it. New York: Random House.
  • ii) Singh A.R., Singh S.A., (2005), Medical Practice, Psychiatry and the Pharmaceutical Industry: And Ever the Trio shall Meet-I: The Connection between Academia and Industry, Mens Sana Monographs,II:6, III:1, March-June, p5-35.
msm style27
MSM Style
  • 5. For Web References:
  • National Prescribing Service Limited, (2002-03), Annual report 2002-03, p32. Available at: www.nps.org.au/resources/content/nps_annual_report_02-03.pdf (Accessed 30 April, 2009).  
  • 6. For News Paper/Magazine Articles:
  • Harris G., (2004b), As doctor writes prescription, drug company writes a check, New York Times, June 27, A1.
understanding the two referencing systems
Understanding the Two Referencing Systems
  • Not just describing them
  • Their nitty-gritties
  • Or
  • Teaching them
what motivates the two systems
What motivates the two systems
  • What are their priorities?
  • What are their goals and objectives?
  • How far do they achieve them?
  • What have they improved by formulating these two systems/
  • What can improve these two systems?
what motivates the two systems30
What motivates the two systems?
  • Common factors
  • Systematisation of referencing
  • Giving due credit to earlier researchers
  • Making a system faithful to its objectives, whatever they may be.
  • Universal applicability
  • Ease of understanding between fellow researchers and readers.
specific to harvard
Specific to Harvard
  • Author friendly
  • Reader friendly
  • Researcher friendly
specific to harvard32
Specific to Harvard
  • It reflects a researcher’s/writer’s world view.
  • An author is not just a number in the text. He is to be acknowledged wherever he is cited in the text.
  • The year when he writes what is equally important to know how the thought/researcher has unfolded/progressed.
specific to vancouver
Specific to Vancouver
  • Indexing friendly
  • Librarian friendly
  • Editor/Reviewer friendly
  • It reflects a librarian’s world view.
  • An author or writing is just a number
  • A journal, its vol are other items helpful for categorising.
  • Harvard
  • Author specific
  • Vancouver
  • System specific
  • Harvard: Authors system
  • Vancouver: Librarians system
  • Why?
  • Author: Name, year, journal
  • Librarian: Numbers
librarian s working
Librarian’s working
  • How does a librarian manage so many volumes in a library?
  • By assigning it a special number tag.
  • For him each work is just a number, whether by the most brilliant scientist or the most ordinary writer.
harvard working
Harvard working
  • Being itself a hallowed institution, it will want to give due credit to authors and cite their names in the text as frequently as they appear.
what motivates the two systems38
What motivates the two systems?
  • Vancouver
  • To lay down a universal referencing system for all biomedical journals, easy for indexing and categorising
  • Harvard
  • To lay down a universal system which aids writers/researchers in understanding how papers are written and thoughts unfold.
what are their priorities
What are their priorities?
  • Vancouver
  • To help indexing for NLM
  • Detecting plagiarism/misquoting
  • Helpful for editor/reviewer
  • Harvard
  • To give due credit to earlier research and help future writers who look up references
what are their goals objectives
What are their goals/objectives
  • Vancouver
  • Foolproof indexing and categorising of research
  • Uniformity and reduction of effort
  • Harvard
  • Better quality write-ups by researchers and giving credit where it is due.
how far have they achieved it
How far have they achieved it?
  • Vancouver : Very well
  • Harvard: Very well
what have they improved by formulating their two systems
What have they improved by formulating their two systems?
  • Vancouver
  • They have made indexing and cross-referencing a breeze.
  • Reduced time and effort for writers
  • Detecting plagiarism is made easy.
  • Harvard
  • Ease of finding authors in a ref list
  • Earlier writers given due credit.
  • Readers become more enlightened
  • They have stuck to time honoured principles and need for better write-ups and more enlightened reading.
what can improve in these two systems
What can improve in these two systems?
  • Vancouver
  • 1. Can become more reader/writer/researcher friendly by citing authors’ names in the text.
  • 2. Alphabetical listing of references for ease of citation by future authors.
what can improve in these two systems44
What can improve in these two systems?
  • Harvard
  • Develop web citation linkages as in Vancouver. Clicking authors’ name in text should lead to name in reference list.
  • Cross linking and deposition of references in a central repository like Medline/PubMed
  • Using authors’ names to link them to references list in online material and link them in a central repository like NLM will help detect plagiarism and unfair reporting.
  • Make greater use of www that unites researchers world wide for greater knowledge dissemination.
essential fight
Essential Fight
  • It’s essentially a fight between a categoriser, a librarian


  • A writer
both valid
Both Valid
  • Both are valid in their respective domains.
  • However
  • Referencing essentially involves categorising
  • So the categoriser must have a large say in the matter
  • But since it is research and academic writing that is categorised,due importance to the writer and subsequent research would be appropriate.
  • Vancouver system should adopt the following good points of Harvard
  • 1. Citing authors name/year in the text
  • 2. Arranging authors in alphabetical order with year of publication immediately following name/s
  • Italicising journal names, highlighting Vol number for ease of reference to readers.
  • Make necessary system change so this is possible.
  • Not sticking to their guns, and incorporating these good points from the Harvard system.
why the vancouver system should change this way
Why the Vancouver system should change this way?
  • 1. It will become both system and author friendly
  • 2. It may make the Harvard system redundant by imbibing their good points.
  • 3. Hence, the Vancouver sytem will have the chance to become the preferred system by all researchers everywhere, not just in biomedicine.
why do so
Why do so?
  • 4. The whole knowledge corpus of scientific and related research will be available in a central repository, or linked to it.
  • 5. The need to have two separate major referencing systems with faithful, warring proponents will disappear.
  • 6. One system which encourages world wide exchange of scientific knowledge will result.
concluding remarks
Concluding remarks
  • All, provided egos can be set aside, rigidity of approach forsaken, and flexibility, especially by the dominant approach today, the Vancouver, and which concerns us here, can be put in place.
  • It will be salutary for scientific advance in general and biomedical advance in particular.
take home
Take Home
  • Both systems have advantages.
  • Vancouver is good for categorising and indexing.
  • Harvard is good for research and reading.
  • Vancouver can incorporate good points of Harvard and become the prime referencing system.