REVIEW – October 2005

Epidemiology III. The list of publications as the writer’s Achilles’ heelnon


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Observations have consistently revealed that the References section contains more errors than the other sections of a manuscript. Instead of following a required or suggested system (style) for referencing, many authors, including master’s students, doctoral students and grant applicants, are eager to apply their own “mixed” system. These systems are characterised by a lack of consistency in citing and referencing. Quite often authors claim that they were not aware of a standard reference system, or that they were using a system for citing references which they had seen elsewhere. In this paper, the neccessity of accurate referencing is stressed. Based on real-life but non-disclosed sources, examples of some possible errors in referencing are tabulated and described. It is argued that there are numerous referees in the world, who first look at the References section to get a first impression of the writer’s attitude to work. It is also pointed out that to separate the grain from the chaff at the very beginning, some scientific journals state in their authors’ instructions, unequivocally, that reference lists not conforming to a designated style could lead to a rejection for publication. Several literature and Internet sources are given that provide additional information on the construction of reference lists.