Referencing for beginners

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References (refs) on OurMed are important to validate writing and inform the reader. Any editor can remove unreferenced material; and unsubstantiated articles may end up getting deleted, so when something is added to an article, it's highly advisable to also include a reference to say where it came from. Referencing may look daunting, but it's easy enough to do. Here's a guide to getting started.

Contents

Good references

A reference must be accurate, i.e. it must prove the statement in the text. To validate "Mike Brown climbed Everest", it's no good linking to a page about Everest, if Mike Brown isn't mentioned, nor to one on Mike Brown, if it doesn't say that he climbed Everest. You have to link to a source that proves his achievement is true. You must use reliable sources, such as published books, mainstream press, and authorised web sites. Blogs, MySpace, YouTube, fan sites and extreme minority texts are not usually acceptable, nor is original research (e.g. your own unpublished, or self-published, essay or research), or another OurMed article.

Inserting a reference


OurMed allows editors to use any citation system that allows the reader to understand where the information came from. Common choices include footnotes, parenthetical references, and inline URLs. This page will show you how to use the footnotes approach:

The first thing you do is to create a section where the footnotes will appear. It may already exist: look for a section that contains either <references /> or {{reflist}}. This section goes towards the bottom of the page, below the "See also" section and above the "External links" section, and is usually titled "References". Enter this code:

==References==
{{Reflist}}

The next step is to put a reference in the text. Here is the code to do that. The code goes at the end of the relevant phrase, sentence, or paragraph to which the note refers. (If there is a space between the end of the phrase, sentence or paragraph and the beginning of the <ref>, then normal line wrap may cause the resulting numbered footnote to be separated from the text.)

<ref>             </ref>

Whatever text, formatting, or templates you put in between these two tags will become visible in the "References" section as your reference.

Test it out

Open the edit box for your user talk (discussion) page, copy the following text (inserting your own text where indicated), paste it at the bottom of the page, and save the page:

==Reference test==
This is the text which you are going to verify with a reference.<ref>Reference details go here</ref>
==References==
{{Reflist}}

(End of text to copy and paste.)

When you save the page, you should see this on your screen:

Reference test
This is the text which you are going to verify with a reference.[1]
References
  1. Reference details go here

You can also use the OurMed:Sandbox for test edits like this.

Information to include

You need to include the information to enable the reader to find your source. For an online newspaper source, it might look like this:

<ref>Plunkett, John. [http://media.guardian.co.uk/site/story/0,14173,1601858,00.html "Sorrell accuses Murdoch of panic buying"], ''[[The Guardian]]'', London, 27 October 2005. Retrieved on 2005-10-27.</ref>

When uploaded, it appears as:

Plunkett, John. "Sorrell accuses Murdoch of panic buying", The Guardian, London, 27 October 2005. Retrieved on 2005-10-27.

Note the single square brackets around the URL and the article title. The format is:

[http://URL "Title of article"]

Make sure there is a space between the URL and the Title. This code results in the URL being hidden and the title showing as a link. Use double apostrophes for the article title (it is quoted text), and two single quote marks either side of the name of the newspaper (to generate italics).

Double square brackets around the name of the newspaper create an internal link (a wikilink) to the OurMed article (if any) about the newspaper - not really necessary for a well-known paper. Apostrophes (used to make bold or italic text) must go outside the brackets.

The date after The Guardian is the date the newspaper article was originally published -- this is required information -- and the date after "Retrieved on" is the date you accessed the website, which is not essential but can be useful for searching the web archive in case the link goes dead.

It is best to include the place of publication if it is not already part of the newspaper's name. This avoids possible confusion with other newspapers of the same name. In the example, there are other newspapers called The Guardian published in other cities of the world.

References not online

You can use sources which are not online, but which you have found in a library or elsewhere—in which case, leave out the information that is not relevant. The newspaper example above would be formatted like this:

<ref>Plunkett, John. "Sorrell accuses Murdoch of panic buying", ''[[The Guardian]]'', London, 27 October 2005.</ref>

After you add this information and save your edit, it appears as:

Plunkett, John. "Sorrell accuses Murdoch of panic buying", The Guardian, London, 27 October 2005.

Here is an example for a book:

<ref>Charmley, John (2006). ''The Princess and the Politicians'', p. 60. Penguin Books, London. ISBN 0140289712.</ref>

After you add this information and save your edit, it appears as:

Charmley, John (2006). The Princess and the Politicians, p. 60. Penguin Books, London. ISBN 0140289712.

Make sure you put two single quotation marks round the title (to generate italics), rather than one double quote mark.

Date format

These formats are acceptable for dates:

27 January 2007
January 27, 2007

Citation templates

Optionally, you may prefer to use a citation template to compile the details of the source. The template is placed between the ref tags, and you fill out the fields that you want to include.

Basic citation templates can be found here: OurMed:Template messages/Sources of articles/Citation quick reference.

Same reference used more than once

The first time a reference appears in the article, you can give it a simple name in the <ref> code:

<ref name="smith">DETAILS OF REF</ref>

Subsequent times that you use the same reference in the article, you can use a shortcut instead of re-typing it:

<ref name="smith" />

You can then use the shortcut as many times as you want. Don't forget the /, or it will blank the rest of the article. Some symbols don't work in the ref name, but you'll find out if you use them.

You can see multiple use of the same references in action in the article William Bowyer (artist). There are three sources, and they are each referenced three times. Each statement in the article has a footnote to show its source.

Alternative system

The above method is simple and combines references and notes into one section. A refinement is to put the full details of the references in their own section headed "References", while the notes which apply to them appear in a separate section headed "Notes". The notes can be inserted in the main article text in an abbreviated form as seen in this version of the article Harriet Arbuthnot or in a full form as in this version of the article Brown Dog affair. The separation of "Notes" and "References" in this way is in line with scholarly works.

Further information

More information can be found at:

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