Why audit citations and references?

Academic works such as dissertations and journal articles can contain hundreds of citations and final references, while PhD theses typically feature thousands of citations.

If the author is not using proprietary software such as EndNote, then keeping track of these citations can become a challenging task:

  • Citations may contain a typographic error or incorrect year of publication
  • Citations may not have a corresponding entry in the references list or bibliography
  • Entries in the references list or bibliography may not have a corresponding citation in the document
  • Prepare

    List every source cited in the document

  • Compare

    Check the citations against the final references list

  • Analyse

    Identify typos, citations with no final reference, and vice versa

  • Report

    Generate a report of all issues detected in the audit

The solution: Audit

Sample audit report

The audit process harnesses macro scripts that can be used to conduct tasks in MS Word documents (a macro is a series of commands that can be run automatically to save time and avoid human error). A macro is run to prepare a list of every citation in the document. A second macro is then applied to compare this list with each entry in the references list/bibliography for a match. An editor will manually analyse the results, identifying false positives, possible typographic errors in citations, citations missing final entries in the references/bibliography section, and references that are not cited in the document. Finally, a report is generated and forwarded to the author(s) to review and take action.