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The Role of Referencing in Scientific Writing

The Role of Referencing in Scientific Writing

Scientific writing makes up an integral element within research. Of late, the pace at which findings of a research is communicated through diverse mediums such as thesis, books, conference papers and journal articles has substantially increased with widespread developments in technology and medicine. The findings from these researches are usually perceived as harbingers of development in the academic and Scientific domain, driving further research or action. As is the case in any kind of academic writing, scientific writing too warrants the need for adequate references to correlate the findings with experiments conducted in the past or to indicate what researchers have said about a particular phenomenon. As a matter of fact, Referencing and bibliography are vital components within a scientific paper. This article is essentially an attempt to highlight the key features, benefits and limitations of most commonly used referencing tools that can greatly improve the efficacy of scientific writing in research.

The Objective of Referencing within Scientific Writing

Referencing can be considered as a systematic and scientific technique to define a source of data by presenting a set of information that facilitates a particular text to be easily identified, sought and retrieved. Though referencing would specifically refer to information sources that are included within a scientific paper, the detailed list of sources is presented within the bibliography.

Statements made by researchers in the past are validated with the help of in-text citations and also allows a link to be created between various studies which helps readers to compare and contrast their results.

There are several styles of referencing that have been in use in the medical, scientific and other domains which would include:-


Of course there are other styles of referencing that is used too but the above said three styles of referencing are the most commonly used styles for scientific writing.

The Harvard and APA referencing styles would comprise of including the name of the author and the year of publication while the Vancouver style involves the use of numbers to denote a reference.


Though the formats and styles might differ, the objective of referencing remains the same and presents the same information.

APA( Americal Psychological Association)

Problems in Managing References

The most common problems that can arise during referencing is the large variation in categories of referencing which would include, formatting styles, data fields, wide range of materials that comprise of sections from books, whole books, conference papers and proceedings, journal articles, newspaper articles, patents, dissertations and thesis, legal documents, electronic articles etc., which can be used as appropriate data sources that can be cited. Nonetheless, the increased number of diverse fields of data for every single material that can be cited often gives rise to referencing that is incomplete or erroneous. Punctuations, formatting of text pertaining to bold, italics, basic short forms of the name of the journal or the author, listing the reference in chronological or alphabetical order and the format for in-text citations can vary substantially in different styles of referencing. In addition, in the case of Vancouver style referencing, the in-text citation numbers can undergo alteration if there is any addition or deletion in the text content. In view of these aspects, ensuring the correct referencing can be quite a challenge.

The Solution

Scientific writers today can circumvent these issues by leveraging several referencing tools that are either web-based or non-web based. These tools are automated and can be effectively utilized to distinctly recognize and save the relevant data fields within a reference wherein diverse rules for formatting can be applied to separate elements to match the requirements of diverse referencing styles. The most appropriate referencing software will be built to support various operating systems, facilitate references to be organized and segregated within folders and groups, attach files, import and export diverse file formats, can be easily integrated with common word processers, facilitates connectivity with the database to allow literature search and customize the styles of referencing. There are several referencing software available amongst which the oldest software includes Thomson Reuters’ Reference Manager and EndNote. However, there are other referencing software too which can be effectively utilized. Another option would be to outsource the task of referencing the scientific document to third party organizations such as Medical Writing Experts.

How Medical Writing Experts can help

Medical Writing Experts are one such organization that has been active in this domain for over a decade now. Medical Writing Experts not only enables research writers to easily reference their scientific papers but they are also a leading global provider of scientific, clinical and medical communication services to pharmaceutical, biotech, medical device companies and researchers, scholars, academic societies and publishers. We have experience in scientific publications services / referencing in accordance to the target journal as well as the regulations and norms set in different countries and different continents. Some of which are, Bulgaria, France, India, Germany, Poland, Romania, Spain, Switzerland, Italy, Greece, Netherlands, Austria, Belgium, Russia, Czech Republic, Israel, SriLanka, Latvia and Lithuania. Scholars and organizations alike can stand to gain immensely by availing the services of Medical Writing Experts.

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The Role of Referencing in Scientific Writing


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