1. Nicoll, Leslie H. PhD, MBA, RN, FAAN
  2. Oermann, Marilyn H. PhD, RN, ANEF, FAAN
  3. Carter-Templeton, Heather PhD, RN-BC, FAAN
  4. Wrigley, Jordan MSLS, MA
  5. Owens, Jacqueline K. PhD, RN, CNE


Accuracy of cited references in scholarly publications gives credit to original authors and offers information for readers to access sources for additional review. Errors in this foundational information can, at a minimum, create confusion and additional burden for consumers; at worst, these errors can make it impossible to locate the original work. For systematic and other types of reviews, finding relevant studies is critical for comprehensiveness and accuracy. The purpose of this study was to evaluate the accuracy of cited references in a curated data set of 100 articles from 100 different nursing journals. From these articles, a sample of references for analysis (n = 666) was created. From this total, only 8 references (1.3%) could not be retrieved at all. Small numbers of references (<=3%) had errors in the author name, journal title, article title, or year, but these did not prevent retrieval. These small numbers suggest that use of current technology including electronic databases and reference management software has improved overall accuracy in reference lists. An unexpected finding was the discovery of enhanced reference lists for online articles at publisher sites. These provide at least 1 and as many as 5 direct links to cited articles, thus increasing accuracy and ease of retrieval. Implications for authors, editors, and publishers are discussed.