Vancouver Style of Reference made easy

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Vancouver Method of Reference
‘Thesis’ in DNB can be difficult at times if not done systematically. The Board seems quite particular regarding this job and we have to have clarity of thoughts before we start it. When I started with my own, I always use to look if I could get any kind of thesis guidelines in Google search.
Even the minor things like font size, line spacing confuses us all the time. This post is in response to the discussion at facebook group regarding thesis/dissertation in pediatrics. Reference or Bibliography is one of topics in thesis making, examiner is very particular about! This post is all about the correct methodology of referencing the text in thesis with examples from my own thesis I submitted to National Board of Examination.

How to Cite reference
There are two methods we can use to cite one is superscript format e.g. 1 & other, enclosed in round brackets, e.g. (1). Here is example of type of referencing.

Superscript Format
Incidence of acute diarrhoea in children under 5 is 223

Bracket Format
Incidence of acute diarrhoea in children under 5 is 22 (3)

Citing More Than One Reference at a Time

When citing more than one source at a time, the preferred method is to list each reference number separately with a comma or dash (without spaces) between each reference.

Incidence of acute diarrhoea in children under 5 is 22 3,22,90
Incidence of acute diarrhoea in children under 5 is 22 (3,22,90)

The Reference List or Bibliography

The first thing is write “Reference” as a heading and not “Bibliography” atleast as for as National Board is concerned. I have seen this correction sent back by Board in a thesis proforma recently.
It is very important that you use the correct punctuation while writing references and the order of references/bibliography should be arranged in the order of citation in the text of thesis and not in alphabetical order. Citations are numbered consecutively in text. Once a source has been cited, the same number is used in all subsequent references.

The following examples demonstrate the format for a variety of types of references including the online material (articles from pubmed or Indian paediatrics or any online journal) obtained for thesis.

These are examples from my own thesis on Oral Rehydration Therapy

Books: Single author or editor

If the editors of a book are also the authors of all of the included chapters like Ghai textbook of pediatrics or Park PSM then it should be cited as

Standard format

Author/editor. Title: subtitle. Edition. Vol. Place of publication: Publisher; Year. p. page number(s).
1. Park K. Park’s Textbook of Preventive Medicine. 19th edition. Jabalpur: m/s Banarsidas   Bhanot; 2007. p. 183-188. (chapter name not included,)

2. Ghai O.P. Ghai Essential Pediatrics: Diseases of gastrointestinal tract and liver. 7th edition. Delhi-92; CSB Publ: 2009. p. 260-269. (vol not applicable here)
Vancouver style of reference explained with example
Books: Multiple authors or editors

When the chapters have individual title and author/s, but are included in textbooks edited by others.

Standard format

Author of Part. Title of chapter. In: Editor A, Editor B, editors. Title: subtitle of Book. Edition (if not the first). Place of publication: Publisher; Year. page numbers.

1.Zulfiqar Ahmed Bhutta. Acute Gastroenteritis in Children. In: Kliegman, Behrman, Jenson, editors, Nelson Textbook of Pediatrics. 18th edition vol.2 New Delhi: Elsevier; 2008. p. 1605-1618. (If no volumes don’t mention it)

2.Ashiok K. Patwari. Diseases of Gastrointestinal System and Liver: Diarrheal Diseases. In: A Parthsarathy, editor, IAP Textbook of Pediatrics, 4th edition vol.2.  New Delhi:  Jaypee; 2009. p. 602-608.

Citing a reference from textbook
No author
The Oxford concise medical dictionary. 6th ed. Oxford: Oxford University Press; 2003. p. 26.
Multiple volumes
Zulfiqar Ahmed Bhutta. Acute Gastroenteritis in Children. In: Kliegman Behrman, Jenson, editors, Nelson Textbook of Pediatrics  18th  edition vol.2 New Delhi: Elsevier; 2008. p. 1605-  1618. (Mention the volume; that’s it)
Corporate author (Organisation like WHO, UNICEF etc)
Assessment of risk & risk management for water related infectious disease. WHO/UNICEF: Global water supply & sanitation assessment report 2000; chapter 1: p. 1-5
Government publication
NFHS-2 (1998-1999) National Family Health Survey India. International Institute of Population Science, Deonar, Mumbai, 2000.


Capitalise only the first word of an article title. List the first six authors followed by et al. if more authors. If up to six you will have to write all names (very common mistake we all do). 

The titles of journals should be abbreviated as they appear in Medline index. To indicate a page range use 123-9, 126-34 or 111-222. If you refer to only one page, use only 111.

Standard format
Author of article A, Author of article B. Title of article. Abbreviated Title of Journal. year; vol (issue): page number(s).

Write issue and suppl if applicable.

Journal article

1.Sonia Puri, Vikas Bhatia, Amarjeet Singh, HM Swami, Amrit Kaur. Uptake of newer vaccines in Chandigarh. Indian J Pediatr. 2007; 74: 47-50.

2. Bandyopadhyay S, Banerjee K, Sharma RS. Practices of preparation of oral rehydration solution among mothers reporting to the drug distribution centers in Delhi. J Diarrhoeal Dis Res. 1993;11(4):249-251.

More than six authors

Lebenthal E, Heitlinger L, Lee PC, Nord KS, Hodge C, Brooks SP et al. Corn syrup sugars: in vitro and in vivo digestibility and clinical tolerance in acute diarrhea of infancy. J Pediatr. 1983; 103(1): 29-34.

et al after writing names of six authors only if more than six authors.

Organization with author

Birger C Forsberg. Diarrhoea case management in low and middle income countries Bulletin of the World Health Organization: January 2007, 85 (1) 42-48.

No author given

21st century heart solution may have a sting in the tail. BMJ. 2002; 325(7537):184.

Volume with supplement

Geraud G, Spierings EL, Keywood C. Tolerability and safety of frovatriptan with short and long term use for treatment of migraine and in comparison with sumatriptan. Headache. 2002;42 Suppl 2:S93-9.

Newspaper article
 Schwartz, J. Obesity affects economic, social status. The Washington  Pos1993 sept 30, p  A1.

When you cite an electronic source try to describe it in the same way you would describe a similar printed publication.

Standard format
Author A, Author B. Title of e-book [format]. Place: Publisher; Date of original publication. Available from : Source. URL.

David Werner. Questioning The Solution- The Politics of Primary Health Care and Child Survival .  Palo Alto CA: Healthwrights publication; 1997 p. 33-71.Available from:


Journal article accessed from online database.

Standard format
Author A, Author B. Title of article. Abbreviated Title of Journal [Abstract if appliacable]. year [cited year abbreviated month day];vol(no):page numbers. Available from: Database Name (if appropriate). URL.

1. Jha N, Singh R, Baral D. Knowledge, attitude and practices of mothers regarding home management of acute diarrhoea in Sunsari, Nepal. Nepal Med Coll J. 2006; 8(1): 27-30.
        Available from PMID: 16827086

2. Thamer Kadum Yousif Al Hilfy. Mother’s knowledge and attitude regarding childhood survival. MEJFM (abstract). 2007; 5(1): 9-26.
Available from http: // / journal/ Jan2007/ MEJFM_ Jan2007.pdf

Abstract citations can be included in a reference list if the abstract is substantial or if the full-text of the article could not be accessed.

How a Reference List  Should Look Like                                               
The reference list should appear at the end of paper. Begin the list on a new page. 

The title References should be either left justified or centered on the page. The entries should appear as one numerical sequence in the order that the material is cited in the text of thesis.

1. Ibrahim MM, Aden AS, Omar HM, Wall S, Persson LA. Diarrhoea among children in rural Somalia. Maternal perceptions, management and mortality. Ann Trop Paediatr. 1994; 14(3): 215-222.

2. Gutierrez G, Tapia-Conyer R, Guiscafre H, Reyes H, Martinez H, Kumate J. Impact of oral rehydration and selected public health interventions on reduction of mortality from childhood diarrhoeal diseases in Mexico. Bull World Health Organ. 1996; 74(2):189-97.

3. Jha N, Singh R, Baral D. Knowledge, attitude and practices of mothers regarding home management of acute diarrhoea in Sunsari, Nepal. Nepal Med Coll J. 2006; 8(1): 27-30.Available from PMID: 16827086

4. WHO: Readings on diarrhea- student’s manual, programme for control of diarrhoeal diseases. WHO. 1994, Geneva. p. 3-5.

5. Ghosh S, Sengupta PG, Mandal SK, Manna B, Sikder SN, Sirkar BK. Maternal behaviour and feeding practices as determinants of childhood diarrhoea: some observations amongst rural Bengalee mothers. Indian J Public Health. 1994; 38(2): 77-80.

6. WHO/UNICEF. Assessment of risk and risk management for water related infectious disease. Global water supply and sanitation assessment report 2000. p.1-5.

7. Esrey SA, Potash JB, Roberts L, Shiff C. Effects of improved water supply and sanitation on ascariasis, diarrhoea, dracunculiasis, hookworm infection, schistosomiasis, and trachoma. Bull World Health Organ. 1991; 69(5): 609-21.


Standard abbreviations may be used in your citations.

et al
and others
number (series)
page/pages (book)
volume (book)

Here is the Module for thesis by National Board of Examination, New Delhi


About Author

Ajay Agade | DNB FNB Fellowship in Pediatric pulmonology

Ajay is a Paediatric Intensivist, currently working in Pediatric Respirology & LTV at Great Ormond Street Hospital NHS, London