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Vancouver reference style (based on Citing Medicine): Indirect citations/secondary sources

A guide to using the Vancouver citation style for in text citations and reference lists.

Indirect citations/secondary citation

 In your research, an author may refer to another researcher's work, or one author quotes from another's work.

 An indirect citation is when the ideas of one author are published in another author's text but you have not read or accessed the original author's work.

This is generally discouraged  because authors are expected to have examined the works they cite.

This source within a source is known as an 'indirect source'. Make it clear in the text of your document that you are quoting a secondary source.

In the reference list, provide the details of both the work in which you found the quotation or idea. and the actual source.

Always try and find the original work.


The AMA Manual section 3.13.10 states:

Reference may be made to one author’s citation of, or quotation from, another’s work. Distinguish between citation (work mentioned) and quotation (words actually quoted). In the text, the name of the original author, rather than the secondary source, should be mentioned. (See also 3.11.12, References to Print Journals, Discussants)..... citation of the original document is preferred unless it is not readily available.  


The forms for listed references are as follows:

Material Type In-Text Citation Reference LIst & Notes

 Journal article


...according to Cauley(1) as cited by Acheson, bone density is directly linked to risks of fractures.

1. Cauley JA, Lui L-Y, Ensrud KE, et al. Osteoporosis and fracture risk in women of different ethnic groups. JAMA. 2005;293(17):2102-2108. Cited by: Acheson LS. Bone density and the risk of fractures: should treatment thresholds vary by race [editorial]? JAMA. 2005;293(17):2151-2154.



Electronic Journal article with doi Prazar quotes Kato et al.(2) to explain new treatments in medical practice describing....

2. Kato S, Sherman PM. What is new related to Helicobacter pylori infection in children and teenagers? Arch Pediatr Adolesc Med. 2005;159(5):415-421. Quoted by: Prazar G. How many pediatricians does it take to change a practice? or how to incorporate change into practice [editorial]. Arch Pediatr Adolesc Med. 2005;159(5):500-502.




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