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Evidence Based Practice: Reference lists

A subject guide to resources on Evidence Based Practice from Queen Margaret University

Reference lists

You must always provide a reference list at the end of your assignment, before any appendices. This is a list of sources you have used, in alphabetical order, organised by the family name of the author, and providing the publication details so that readers can see and find the sources you have used in your work.

You should only include sources you cited in your work. You may also be asked to provide a bibliography, which is a list of both the sources you have cited in your work, and the sources you have consulted but not cited. You should only provide a bibliography if you have been specifically asked to.

Your reference list should be consistent in style, using QMU’s version of Harvard, and only using another style if you have been specifically asked to in the assignment brief.

If you need further help, contact your Liaison Librarian or the Effective Learning Service.

Key points for reference lists

  • Correct and consistent punctuation is very important. Pay close attention to the examples in the A-Z of reference examples that follows this section
  • For sources with more than one author, all of the authors should be listed in the order they are listed in the source
  • The titles of sources (except journal and newspaper articles) should be in sentence case (that is, the first word starts with a capital letter and the rest are in lower case), except for the names of places and people, including publishers’ names and places, which should start with a capital letter
  • If sources have multiple authors, you should include them all, regardless of how many there are
  • If you have more than one source from the same author, these should be listed in chronological order, with the earliest first
  • If you have more than one source from the same author in the same year, these should be listed in the order they appear in the body of your work, using a lower case a, b, c, and so on after the date, in both the citations and the reference list • Use a colon between the place of publication and the publisher


  • References always start with the author name.
  • Then the date of publication or creation (in brackets).
  • The title comes next, and if it is a book, is in italics.

Linking to online sources

If you have used an online resource, you may need to include a link to it in your reference (follow the Cite Them Right guidance for this). Try to find as short a version of a link as possible (ideally no longer than one line). When referencing URLs, make sure to copy them directly from the address bar at the top of the web page. Otherwise any typos will result in an error message. Links should appear as live links (ones that you can click on which will take you to a website) in your reference list unless assignment guidelines specify otherwise.

What kind of link to choose

Sometimes more than one link will be available (for example for journal articles). You will need to decide which link to include. In order of preference, these are: 
1.    DOI (Digital Object Identifier)
A unique alphanumeric string assigned by a registration agency (The International DOI Foundation) to identify content and provide a persistent link to its location on the internet. The publisher assigns a DOI when an article is published and made available electronically.
For example: 
A DOI is the best link to use because it is the most sustainable form of link through which readers should always be able to access the source. 

2.    Permalink (if there is no DOI listed)
A persistent URL that will return the user to the same resource every time.
For example:
If a DOI is not available and the URL is very long, the first part of the URL (the information before the first forward slash /) is sufficient for the reader to find your source.

3.    URL (If there is neither a DOI nor a Permalink)
A location element that you can find address bar at the top of the web page. Because websites are updated often, the URL you save today may not work tomorrow. This is why DOIs and Permalinks are preferable. 
For example: 
If you cannot find a DOI, permalink or URL to the specific source (such as an e-book), use the URL of the website as a whole (for example,

Getting help

If you need further help, contact your Liaison Librarian or the Effective Learning Service.