The References section is the acknowledgment and documentation of the work of other investigators, i.e., a list of sources cited in the paper. The author has an ethical obligation to carefully document the source of all information that is derived from the work of others. Failure to do so is considered plagiarism. Additionally, the accuracy of the references will be crucial to other individuals who are exploring similar areas of research. This should contain classic works related to the topic as well as the most current research.3 Secondary sources, a summary of an investigation by someone other than the original author (such as in a textbook), should be avoided, since misinterpretations are more likely to occur.
A variety of reference formats are used by different journals, including how they are cited in the text (e.g., by superscripted number or author and date), how the references themselves are structured (e.g., placement of date), and the order in which they are listed in the reference section (e.g., by order of appearance in the text or alphabetically). A popular format used in dental and medical literature is that of the National Library of Medicine.6 Another common format is that of the American Psychological Association or APA.7Below is an example of the References section:
The Clinical Effect of Dentifrices Containing Stabilized Stannous Fluoride on Plaque Formation and Gingivitis - A Six-Month Study with Ad libitum Brushing4References