Citing Information Resources in the Biomedical Literature
When the word "citing" is used in this document, it refers to the numbers placed after facts in the body of the paper. When the word "references" or "resources" is used, it refers to the list at the end of the paper that indicate sources of information from which facts were derived.
When should a resource be cited? If something is fairly well known about a drug, for example what disease state it is used for, it is not necessary to cite a source for the information. Any time you use numbers or introduce facts that are not well-known, you should cite the resource in which you found the information.
What if facts in a reference article are referenced? Always cite the reference where you obtained the information, even if that information is cited in the resource you used. For example, if you are reading a review and find some interesting numbers that you would like to add to your introduction, and the review cites those numbers as coming from a prior published study, then you will cite the review, not the prior published study. Why? Unless you pull and read the original study yourself, you cannot be entirely certain that the numbers in the review are accurately reported or that the writer of the review came to a valid conclusion. You therefore must cite only the information given you by the reviewer. If you pull the original study and read it yourself, then it is fine to cite the original study.
How should citations be ordered? Your first citation should be your first reference, your second citation the second reference, and so on. Do not present your references in the reference list in alphabetical order; this is routinely done in the social sciences literature but not the biomedical literature. Instead, the references should be presented in the order in which they appear in the text.
How are citations done in the biomedical literature? You will use citation numbers, rather than the first author's name and publication year, when citing information. The first author's name and year of publication are widely used in citations in the social science literature, but citation numbers are used in biomedical literature. Citation numbers should be superscripted like this,1 not in parentheses like this.(1) The citation number goes outside of punctuation like this,1 not inside of punctuation like this1. Citation numbers can either be placed in the middle of a sentence, immediately after the fact you presented, or at the end of the sentence which contains the fact. If you are citing several facts from the same source, your citation number will appear just once, at the end of the sentence containing the first fact from that source. However, if you present information from one resource, then information from a second resource, then more information from the first resource, you will need to cite the first resource both the first and second time you present facts from that resource.
All references should be listed at the end of the paper in a single list, titled "References." Footnoting is generally not done in the biomedical literature and so will not be an acceptable citation method for this paper.
Quoting versus Paraphrasing
In general, do not quote from papers when doing medical writing. Instead, paraphrase the concept in your own words and then cite the manuscript from which you learned the concept. The only time you will quote is if you interview a resource individual yourself, or if you are pointing out in an evaluation actual wording used by authors that you feel was misleading or indicated bias (and here you are presenting the authors’ wording as evidence). The University of Wisconsin at Madison's writing center has a good example of how different from the original text wording needs to be in order to be considered paraphrasing, rather than plagiarism.
Reference Formats For Specific Types of Publications
You are likely to have in high school learned the reference format advocated by the Modern Language Association (MLA) or American Library Association (ALA). In college classes, you may have had to use either the MLA or ALA reference styles or reference styles advocated by the Chicago Manual of Style, the American Psychological Association (APA), or the Council of Biology Editors (CBE). Now we're asking you to learn yet another style for use on your paper. This style was originally agreed on in 1994 by the International Committee of Medical Journal Editors. It has since been adopted by the National Library of Medicine (NLM) as their style guide. You will find that many biomedical journals use this citation format.
Electronic textbooks, databases, and web sites
Electronic Citation FAQs
What is the correct order to present information on an electronic resource? Per the National Library of Medicine recommendations, you should list information in the following order:
What if there doesn't appear to be an author? If there is no apparent author, then you can omit the author's name and start first with the title.
Do you have to write out an author's first name as well as the last name? It is fine to just use the author initials after the last name, for example, O'Sullivan TA.
How can you tell the title of the web page? If there doesn't seem to be an obvious title, look at the top of your browser window. You should see something that looks like this:
What if it's not apparent who the publisher is? In this case it will take a bit of detective work on your part. Some web sites are company web sites that have been put together by a company, but the web address doesn't reflect this. A good example is AstraZeneca's web page for esomeprazole. The web address is www.purplepill.com, but the publisher is AstraZeneca. Some web sites have been put together by a single individual. In this case that individual is both the author and the publisher. If you do not find any information about who published the web site, then you're dealing with a web site you should not trust. Do not use such web sites to reference facts. The only use for such a web site is to use as an example of a poorly-done web site on the web resources assignment, and in this case you will want to mention in your explanation of why it's a poorly-done web site that the web site doesn't list the publisher.
What if you can't find the location of the publisher? First, do some detective work. Look at the "About us" or "Contact us" links. If the publisher appears to be a drug company, but you cannot see through any site links where that company is located, try looking on the main company web site (you may have to use an internet search engine to find the company's site). If the company has several listed locations, look for one designated as "corporate headquarters." If the company is multinational, you will list the corporate headquarters for the U.S. One example of a hard-to-identify location of a publisher is lycopene.org. It took some careful detective work to determine that this web site had been put together by an employee of the H.J. Heinz company, and even more detective work to discover that this company is headquartered in Pittsburgh (PA).
What if you cannot find the copyright date? You should not use information from a web site that does not have a copyright date, because you will not know how old the information is. You may use such a site as an example of a poorly-done web site on the web resources assignment, and in this case you will want to mention in the explanation that the web site doesn't list the copyright date.
What if there is no date indicating when the site was last updated? In this case you will assume that the site has not been updated since the year indicated in the copyright. You will omit the update date and only include the date cited in brackets in your reference.
Could I see an example of a reference list for a drug information paper that I might right? Certainly. The following example could be a reference list for a drug information paper on the topic of drinking cranberry juiceto treat or prevent urinary tract infections.
The first nine references provided general background information and were cited in the introduction. Note that references 7 and 8 are internet sites and are given as examples of the correct format for citing something located on the web. Reference 9 is a review article. The remaining five articles were studies and were outlined in the body of the paper.