Writing a great article

Referencing

Relevant, up-to-date references are critical to the value and integrity of the article and the journal. Correct referencing is not difficult but requires focus and attention to detail.

In the text

RCNi journals use the Harvard (name and year) system for references in the text. For example, ‘It has been suggested that nurses working in emergency departments are vulnerable to post-traumatic stress disorder (Brown 2015).’

For three or more authors, use the first author’s name followed by et al. For example, ‘As White et al (2013) argue…’ For two authors, use both names: ‘As White and Green (2014) argue…’

When several references are cited to support a point, list them in chronological order. For example: (White 2013, Smith 2014, Brown 2015). 

If there are two or more references to the same author, again the order should be chronological: (Brown 2011, 2015). If there are two or more references to Brown for the same year, use letters to distinguish them: (Brown 2015a, 2015b).

The reference list

Journals

In the list at the end of the article, each reference to a journal article should include:

  • The authors’ surnames and initials. Include the surnames and initials of all authors for references with three or fewer authors. For four or more authors, print the first three and add et al. Unlike references in the main text, separate the names of authors by using commas. Do not use ‘and’.
  • The year of publication in brackets.
  • The title of the article in full.
  • The name of the journal in full; use ‘&’ only if this appears in the journal title.
  • The volume, issue number, and the first and last page numbers separated by a hyphen. 
  • Do not use italics.

Examples:
Horrocks C (2014) Working together. Primary Health Care. 14, 1, 23-25.

Stanley H, Simmons S (2011) Neonatal nurses’ perceptions of a work-based learning approach. Nursing Children and Young People. 23, 7, 20-24.

Weglicki R, Reynolds J, Rivers P (2015) Continuing professional development needs of nursing and allied health professionals with responsibility for prescribing. Nurse Education Today. 35, 1, 227-231.

Use alphabetical order for listing references. If there are two or more references to the same author, use chronological order for these.

Books

Each reference to a book should include:

  • The authors’ surnames and initials. Indicate whether the people cited are editors using the abbreviation (Ed or Eds).
  • The year of publication in brackets.
  • The title of the book.
  • The edition (if applicable); for example, Second edition.
  • The publisher.
  • The city of publication, and abbreviated province, state or territory if in Australia, Canada or the United States.
  • If you are citing a chapter in a book, supply the authors’ names, year of publication, title of the chapter, editors’ names, title of the book, publisher and place of publication, and the first and last page numbers separated by a hyphen.
  • Do not use italics.

Examples:
Gopee N (2015) Mentoring and Supervision in Healthcare. Third edition. Sage Publications, London.

Sale J, Neale N (2014) The nurse’s approach and communication: foundations for compassionate care. In Baillie L (Ed) Developing Practical Nursing Skills. Fourth edition. CRC Press, Boca Raton FL, 33-74.

Jones L, Jepson R (Eds) (2011) Postpartum Depression. Staten Press, New York NY.

Use alphabetical order for references. If there are two or more references to the same author, use chronological order.

Web references

Include references to printed documents where possible. However, if you are referencing a page or document that is available only online, please include the author’s name, year of first publication, name of the document or the name of the appropriate web page, a full url address (not just the home page) and the date (day, month, year) on which you last accessed it.

Example:
Royal College of Nursing (2016) Connect for Change: An Update on Learning Disability Services in England. www.rcn.org.uk/professional-development/publications/pub-005525 (Last accessed: 11 May 2016.)

Please note: references to Wikipedia articles are not accepted in RCNi journals.

For more specific guidance, look at the section on author guidelines.

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