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References, please

I recently read an interesting blog post from Tim Parks, an Associate Professor of Literature and Translation at IULM University in Milan, on the practice of referencing in academic publications. In my own field of work it is easy to compile a reference list including journal papers, but more difficult if you need to reference (unpublished/draft) reports, factsheets, online data sources etc.

The post was titled "References, please" and mainly refers to the hassle of referencing citations from books in footnotes, which is very time consuming and made difficult by the fact that different formats are used, books are now also available in electronic format etc.

In my own field of work it is generally much easier to compile a reference list, as in a scientific paper I mainly reference findings from journal articles which can quickly be exported from Pubmed and inserted and turned into a list in the correct format using e.g. Reference Manager.

However, where I experience difficulties is when writing a report on e.g. the HIV epidemic and response in a country, and I need to reference (unpublished/draft) reports, factsheets, online data sources etc. It often takes a lot of time to find out who is the author (often multiple organisations), the publisher (the same organisations?) and the place of the publisher.

And is it better to use this format of "author, title, place of publisher, etc." or  rather refer to the location online (with the risk that the url might change over time). Programs as Reference Manager are also not that user friendly when you need to manually insert references that have an odd format.

Hence I find myself spending a lot of time on getting all references into the same format and inserting them manually, and feeling that I wasted precious time, likewise Tim Parks highlights in his blog. I don't immediately know how to solve this problem, but it would make life a lot easier if all report writers (and I should do this myself as well) give a "suggested citation" in the inside of the cover of the report, as some organisations already do.

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Random sampling versus randomisation

I recently examined a MPH thesis in which the student stated that “the intervention and control were assigned using a random sampling technique.” I have noted in the past that students mix-up random sampling and randomization. I therefore explain both concepts together in this article.

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