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Microbiology and Immunology: Referencing & Writing

Guides to academic writing

Help with writing

Referencing basics

Citing (in-text) and referencing (providing the full details of the source cited, usually at the end of your writing) is a standardised way of acknowledging materials used in your research. Ask your lecturer if you are unsure which style to use. 

For information and resources about the most popular styles, check out our Citation Styles Guide.

A reference is not only the way we identify a source of information we have used, it is also a way that we can locate a source of information.

While you are studying, you will need to find and use references, and cite and reference the information you use.

Parts of a reference include:

  • Author(s) or editor(s)
  • Title (of book, book chapter, article, webpage, documentary, etc.)
  • Date of publication
  • Publisher and place of publication (books)
  • Page numbers
  • Journal title, journal volume and issue (articles)
  • And, other elements that are specific to the type of source, e.g. edition of a book, or DOI or URL for online content.

References are formatted differently, depending on the referencing style used. Here is a break-down of an example of a journal article reference in the APA (American Psychological Association) style:

Jerrentrup, A., Mueller, T., Glowalla, U., Herder, M., Henrichs, N., Neubauer, A., & Schaefer, J. R. (2018). Teaching medicine with the help of “Dr. House”. PLoS ONE, 13(3), Article e0193972.

  • Jerrentrup, A., Mueller, T., Glowalla, U., Herder, M., Henrichs, N., Neubauer, A., & Schaefer, J. R.

The authors are listed first, last name followed by initials.

  • (2018).

The year of publication is written after the authors, in brackets.

  • Teaching medicine with the help of “Dr. House”.

The title is next, e.g.; article title, book or book chapter, webpage, documentary, etc.

  • PLoS ONE,

Next is the name of the wider source if there is one (in APA it is written in italics), e.g.; this is where you would write the title of a journal that an article is found in, or the title of a book that a book chapter is in.

  • 13(3),

For journal articles, this is where you write the journal number (in italics), followed by the journal issue (in brackets). 

  • Article e0193972.

Next, the page numbers, or the article number is written; like it is in this example.

Finally, the DOI or an URL is included, because this is how we find the resource online.

NB: Full stops, commas, brackets and italics are all part of the referencing style, and will differ according to the particular style you are using or reading.

References will also differ depending on the source of your information, e.g., a webpage won’t have page numbers, or if you are citing a physical book, you would write the publisher last, instead of a DOI or URL.

Citing and referencing the ideas and research you use in your assignments is a critical part of all academic work because it:

  • Acknowledges how others' work has influenced your thinking.
  • Provides evidence for your arguments, and
  • Assists other researchers to locate the sources you used.

Citing and referencing avoids plagiarism by giving you a way to correctly attribute credit to other authors or researchers.

The University of Otago takes plagiarism seriously. These resources will help you understand what plagiarism is and how to avoid it.

Information about academic misconduct, including definitions.

Definition of plagiarism and information on how to avoid it.

Identifies a range of support services and resources.

It is a good idea to have a basic understanding of what copyright is and how it pertains to what we do at University.

For information, explore the following linked websites:

Referencing & Citation Styles

A citation or referencing style is a standardised way of crediting the materials used in your research. Ask your lecturer if you are unsure which style to use. 

Vancouver/ NLM (National Library of Medicine) Citation Style

Vancouver/NLM is a numbered style, where a number is allocated to a source in the order in which it is cited in the text (if it is cited again, the same number is used).

The Vancouver style is commonly used in medical and scientific journals (e.g. by the National Library of Medicine and the American Medical Association) and for the health sciences, with slight style variations between journals (e.g. use of superscript).

APA Citation Style

Writing Your Thesis

Reference management tools

Reference management software helps you store, organise, and correctly cite all your research information with ease.  They include EndNote, Mendeley, & Zotero, all of which you can currently access for free.

Check out the Managing Your References guide for information about some reference management software products. 

Managing your references with EndNote

Use Endnote to organise your references, cite them in papers, upload and annotate PDFs, and automatically generate bibliographies - in the citation style of your choice.

EndNote order form for current students

EndNote is free for students and staff at Otago. 

Managing Your References: EndNote

This LibGuide tab provides links to short instructional videos and more.

Online EndNote tutorials  from Endnote Product Support

Avoiding plagiarism

The University of Otago takes plagiarism seriously.  These resources will help you understand what plagiarism is and how to avoid it. 

Citation databases

If you find a great article on your topic, you can use a citation database to track down related articles.