Referencing and RefWorks

RGU Vancouver Referencing

Referencing is a critical element in any academic assignment and during your studies at RGU, you will always be required to reference your sources according to our guidelines.

Remember that you need to follow the examples exactly - using capital letters, italic and the correct punctuation as shown in the examples.

Why Reference?

To support your arguments by referring your reader to academic sources which confirm what you are saying
To give credit to the other authors whose work you have quoted, or to whose work you have referred
To avoid a charge of plagiarism
To allow the reader of your work to find the books, journal articles, web pages etc. which you have read
To demonstrate that you understand the conventions of academic writing
Every time you quote directly from someone else’s work
Every time you refer indirectly to the work of someone else, e.g. if you:
  • paraphrase what they have said
  • summarise their arguments or ideas
  • quote case studies, statistical data, known phrases, definitions etc.
  • use information which you have obtained from their work
When you wish to provide sources of further information, clarification of points you have made in your text, or additional evidence to support your arguments

What is...


Plagiarism is theft of intellectual property and you should absolutely avoid it in all your assignments, by referencing all the sources you have used.

The University has a very strict policy against plagiarism and dealing with students accused of it. We’re not saying don’t get caught plagiarising, we say just don’t do it, it’s not worth the risk! As long as you reference according to our guidelines, you will be fine.

This guide explains the RGU Vancouver style of referencing. If you correctly follow the RGU Vancouver style explained here, you will avoid any risk of plagiarism.

If in doubt, reference!

For more information, see RGU Study Skills' guide to Academic Honesty (via Moodle).


We say you paraphrase when you take someone else’s ideas, theories, opinions, etc. and write them in your own words. This is great because you can show your understanding of the concept, but that doesn’t mean it is your own original idea. So, you must reference the originator of the idea. If you don’t, it will constitute plagiarism, which we're sure you'll want to avoid!

Directly Quoting

This is when you copy the exact words from a book, journal article, website, etc. It’s ok to include quotations here and there in your assignments, but try not to overdo it, as too many quotations might get frowned upon. It is your work as well! A few things to keep in mind:

  • short quotations can be contained in your paragraph and should always be “enclosed within quotation marks”
  • longer quotations should appear as a separate paragraph and do not require quotation marks
  • don’t forget to reference all your quotations!
  • the citation after the quote will have to mention the exact page where you took the extract from. The exception is when there are no pages, like webpages or Kindle books, where page numbers vary depending on text size.

All quotations need to be referenced properly.  If they are not this constitutes plagiarism.

The Stages of Referencing


  • appears at the end of your work giving the full reference details of works from which you have quoted or to which you have referred in your text
  • is arranged numerically by the citation numbers in your text and should be headed References
  • if you have quoted directly only once from a source, the endnote will include a page reference


  • appears at the end of your work following the endnote
  • lists the full reference details for all items included in your endnote plus anything else which you have read but not referred to or quoted in your text, e.g. background reading.
  • is arranged alphabetically by author. If it contains more than one work by the same author they are arranged alphabetically by title.

The citation is inserted into your text where you have quoted from, or referred to, someone else's work.


  • consists of a number either in brackets (1) [1] or in superscript¹
  • the numbers run consecutively throughout your work
  • if you quote from, or refer to, the same source more than once, use the same citation number each time; a page reference may also appear if available.
  • if you have quoted directly from an item more than once in your text you will place a page reference after the number


When you paraphrase: It has been suggested that.... (1).
When you paraphrase and want to use the author(s) name(s) in the sentence:
  • Grushkin (1) claims that ...
  • Payne and Phillips (2) claim that ...
  • Brewster, Fenton and Morris (3) claim that ...
  • Roeder et al. (4) claim that ...
When you directly quote: One view is that “referencing is a pain I could do without” (1).
When you directly quote and use the author(s) name(s) in the sentence: Brown (1) has stated most astutely that “referencing is a pain I could do without”.

Further support for Vancouver referencing

If you need further support with Vancouver referencing please visit our Workshops and Appointments page where you will find information on how to book 1-1 or small group support appointments with one of our team. We also hold regular drop-in sessions in the Library where you can simply turn up and ask your question. Details of our drop-in sessions are on the workshops calendar.

How we can help

If you're not sure which template is right for your source or if you're struggling to identify the information you need then you can email the team for support. Remember to tell us that you're using Vancouver as most students use Harvard. We can also take a look at your reference list and provide some guidance but please give us at least one week's notice and ensure you've helped yourself as much as possible prior to sending us your list.

This includes looking at the templates and ensuring that you have adhered to these as much as possible. We don't offer a proof-reading or correction service. As referencing is a marked part of most assignments your lecturers are expecting to see your own work. We may be able to highlight areas that you need to look at and point you in the direction of the correct templates to use.

Appointments, workshops and email support are available during the Academic Support Team working hours of Monday-Friday 9am-5pm.

Appointment and email response times will depend on team availability and demands on the service. If you have an urgent deadline then please make us aware of that when you contact us and we’ll do our best to assist. The more notice you give us the better!

We can support your academic skills development in a variety of areas including literature searching, databases, search techniques, referencing and more. We will:
  • Scan your reference lists, provide useful comments where we notice issues, and point out areas requiring improvement. However, we don't carry out a full proofreading or correction service and we can't write references for you.
  • Advise on your search strategy, providing guidance to help you search more effectively and offer suggestions on where to search, but we don't carry out searches on your behalf.

Frequently Asked Questions

Referencing a source that has referenced something else

This is called secondary referencing.

You must make the situation clear in your text, eg:
Chandler, in a letter quoted by Hiney (1), claimed that most people could do without literature “far more easily than they could do without coffee or whisky”.

You only reference the work which you have read. In this case the reference which would appear in your endnote would be:

(1) HINEY, T., 1998. Raymond Chandler: a biography. London: Vintage. p. 2.

Citing several sources to support the same point

If you need to cite more than once source at the same time, write a number for each source e.g. (1, 2) or (6, 12, 15)

When citing more than two sources, which are numbered consecutively, use a hyphen instead of a comma (2-4).

Finding publication information for webpages

In general, the organisation on whose website the web page sits will be the publisher of the web page.

If the organisation is not immediately obvious then have a look at any About Us or Contact us information on the website, or scroll to the bottom of the page and look for copyright information, and you should see an organisation mentioned.

The address of the headquarters of the organisation should also be mentioned in these places on the website.  You can treat the town or city where the organisation is based as the place of publication.

Finding when a webpage was last updated

When you are referencing webpages, or other online resources, using RGU Vancouver, you should include a date when the webpage or online resource was last updated - as well as the date cited (the date you looked at it).

On some pages, for example BBC News online reports, a date when a page was last updated may be given at the top of the page.

If no date is given at the top of a page, scroll down to the bottom of the web page - you may find a copyright or "last updated" date there.

If you cannot find a full date for when the page was last updated anywhere but can find a month and year or just a year use that information instead.

If you cannot even find a year, but the page you are looking at, and the rest of the website, seems to be continually updated and there are no indications that the page is older, you can use the current year as your date last updated. If you do not think the page has been recently updated you may use n.d. (meaning no date).

How many references should I use?

Unless you have been specifically told by your marker, or it is noted in the assignment requirements, that you require a certain number of references, there is no exact answer to this question.

The number of references will be determined by the nature of the assignment, what you have written and the sources you have consulted.  If you are worried you have not used enough sources, and therefore do not have enough references, we would suggest you seek guidance from whoever is marking your assignment.

Can I get help with referencing?

If you need further assistance, or have a particular item you are struggling to reference, you may wish to come along to one of our drop-in sessions. Our timetable provides details of the drop-in times.

Alternatively, please feel free to contact us by email on Remember to tell us that you are using the RGU Vancouver style of referencing as most students use Harvard.