Reference guide for authors

For guide on references, see below:

Authors are responsible for the accuracy of cited references and these should be checked before the manuscript is submitted.

Citing in the text

References must be numbered sequentially as they appear in the text, surrounded by square brackets, for example[4]. References should not be cited in figures or tables (or in their legends and footnotes). Reference numbers in the text should be inserted immediately after punctuation (with no word spacing)—for example,[6] not [6].

Where more than one reference is cited, these should be separated by a comma, for example,[1, 4, 39]. For sequences of consecutive numbers, give the first and last number of the sequence separated by a hyphen, for example,[22-25].

Please note that if references are not cited in order the manuscript may be returned for amendment before it is passed on to the Editor for review.

Preparing the reference list

References must be numbered consecutively in the order in which they are mentioned in the text.

Only papers published or in press should be included in the reference list. Personal communications or unpublished data must be cited in parentheses in the text with the name(s) of the source(s) and the year. Authors should request permission from the source to cite unpublished data.

Reference style

List the names and initials of all authors if there are 3 or fewer; otherwise list the first 3 and add ‘et al.’ Use one space only between words up to the year and then no spaces. The journal title should be in italic and abbreviated according to the style of Medline. If the journal is not listed in Medline then it should be written out in full.

Example references

Journal article: Koziol-Mclain J, Brand D, Morgan D, et al. Measuring injury risk factors: question reliability in a statewide sample. Inj Prev 2000;6:148–50.

Abstract/supplement: Roxburgh J, Cooke RA, Deverall P, et al. Haemodynamic function of the carbomedics bileaflet prosthesis [abstract]. Br Heart J 1995;73(Suppl 2):P37.

Preprints: Rostami A, Sepidarkish M, Leeflang M, et al. First snap-shot meta-analysis to estimate the prevalence of serum antibodies to SARS-CoV-2 in humans. MedRxiv 20185017 [Preprint]. September 02, 2020 [cited 2020 Sep 20]

Data citations: [dataset] [52] Wang G, Zhu Z, Cui S, Wang J. Data from: Glucocorticoid induces incoordination between glutamatergic and GABAergic neurons in the amygdala. Dryad Digital Repository, August 11, 2017.

Electronic citations: Websites are referenced with their URL and access date, and as much other information as is available. Access date is important as websites can be updated and URLs change. The “date accessed” can be later than the acceptance date of the paper, and it can be just the month accessed.

Electronic journal articles: Morse SS. Factors in the emergency of infectious diseases. Emerg Infect Dis 1995 Jan-Mar;1(1). (accessed 5 Jun 1998).

Electronic letters: Bloggs J. Title of letter. Journal name Online [eLetter] Date of publication. url eg: Krishnamoorthy KM, Dash PK. Novel approach to transseptal puncture. Heart Online [eLetter] 18 September 2001.

Book: Howland J. Preventing Automobile Injury: New Findings From Evaluative Research. Dover, MA: Auburn House Publishing Company 1988:163–96.

Chapter in a book: 14 Nagin D. General deterrence: a review of the empirical evidence. In: Blumstein A, Cohen J, Nagin D, eds. Deterrence and Incapacitation: Estimating the Effects of Criminal Sanctions on Crime Rates. Washington, DC: National Academy of Sciences 1978:95–139.

Legal material: Toxic substances Contro Act: Hearing on S776 Before the Subcommittee of the Environment of the Senate Comm. on Commerce, 94th Congress 1st September (1975).

Law references: The two main series of law reports, Weekly Law Reports (WLR) and All England Law Reports (All ER) have three volumes a year e.g. Robertson v Post Office [1974] 1 WLR 1176
There are good historical precedents for the use of square and round brackets. Since 1891, round ones have referred to the date of the report, square ones to the date of publication of the report. Apart from not italicising the name of the case, we use the lawyers’ style; be careful with punctuation, e.g. Caparo Industries plc v Dickman and others [1990] 1 All ER 568-608.

Digital Object Identifier (DOI)

A DOI is a unique string created to identify a piece of intellectual property in an online environment and is particularly useful for articles that are published online before appearing in print (and therefore have not yet been assigned the traditional volume, issue and page number references). The DOI is a permanent identifier of all versions of an article, whether raw manuscript or edited proof, online or in print. Thus the DOI should ideally be included in the citation even if you want to cite a print version of an article. Find a DOI.

Cite an article with a DOI before published in print: Alwick K, Vronken M, de Mos T, et al. Cardiac risk factors: prospective cohort study. Ann Rheum DisPublished Online First: 5 February 2004. doi:10.1136/ard.2003.001234

Cite an article with a DOI once published in print: Vole P, Smith H, Brown N, et al. Treatments for malaria: randomised controlled trial. Ann Rheum Dis2003;327:765–8 doi:10.1136/ard.2003.001234 [published Online First: 5 February 2002].