Dos and Don’ts to Referencing Your Nursing Capstone Project

As a nursing student, your capstone project is an essential part of your academic journey. This final project demonstrates your ability to synthesize and apply all of the knowledge and skills you have learned throughout your degree program. One important aspect of this project is referencing. Referencing your work properly is essential to maintaining academic integrity, and it is critical for ensuring that your work is credible and relevant to the field. In this article, we provide a comprehensive guide on the dos and don’ts of referencing your nursing capstone project.


Dos of Referencing

Use Credible Sources

Credible sources are the foundation of any great capstone project. As a nursing student, you should use reputable and scholarly sources to back up your arguments and research.

Examples of credible sources include ;

When looking for sources;

  • Make sure to select those that are most relevant to your research question.
  • Ensure that the sources you choose are current and up-to-date.
  • Outdated sources can reduce the credibility of your paper and may lead to biased conclusions.

Use a Consistent Referencing Style

Using a consistent referencing style is crucial in nursing capstone projects.

Nursing students typically use APA or MLA referencing styles.


But you should choose one that your professor prefers. By following the guidelines of a specific referencing style, you eliminate inconsistencies in your paper’s formatting and citation style.

Additionally, different referencing styles have specific rules that you must follow. By using one style consistently throughout your work, you will avoid confusing your readers and improve the readability of your paper.

Use In-text Citations Accurately

In-text citations indicate the sources of the ideas, facts, or theories presented in your paper. Proper use of in-text citations increases the credibility of your work by providing evidence of your research.

When citing sources, make sure you follow the rules of your chosen referencing style.

  • Avoid over-quoting or under-quoting.
  • Over-quoting can make your paper appear choppy,
  • Under-quoting can lead to plagiarism.

Include a Reference List

A reference list;

Is a comprehensive list of all the sources you have cited in your paper.

It reinforces the credibility of your work and gives the reader a clear overview of your research.

Include :

  • Bibliographic information.
  •  Author name.
  • Year of publication.
  •  Title.

Your reference list should follow the format of your chosen referencing style.

Review your chosen style’s guidelines for the correct order as each referencing style has unique rules and formats.

Paraphrase and Summarize Effectively

Paraphrasing and summarizing are techniques used to make research findings more accessible and understandable. By avoiding direct quotations, you show that you understand the literature and can integrate research findings into your own words.

When paraphrasing or summarizing, make sure that you do not compromise the original authors’ ideas. In addition, don’t forget to include in-text citations to ensure you correctly attribute the source of the original idea.

Don’ts of Referencing

Avoid Using Outdated or Irrelevant Sources

Using outdated or irrelevant sources can severely compromise the credibility of your capstone project.

Outdated sources may include information that is no longer applicable or relevant to your topic.

Ensure that you choose sources that are current to your research question and that represent the most recent work within the field.


Do Not Use an Incorrect Referencing Style

Using the wrong referencing style can lead to confusion and inconsistency within your paper. Citation style guidelines vary depending on the referencing style selected. Make sure that you follow your chosen style’s specific guidelines closely.

If you’re unsure about the rules of the referencing style you are working with, consult with the professor for guidance.

Do Not Forget to Cite Sources Accurately

When you forget to add citations, you could inadvertently plagiarize another author’s work. Failing to provide proper citations can also confuse readers and weaken the paper’s credibility. It is essential to include in-text citations and a reference list that conforms to your chosen referencing style guidelines.

Do Not Rely Too Heavily on Direct Quotes

Do Not Plagiarize

Plagiarism ;

Is a prevalent issue in academia, and it can have severe consequences.

When writing your nursing capstone project, it is important to understand what plagiarism is and how to avoid it.

Plagiarism occurs when you use someone else’s ideas or work as your own, without giving credit. Always use in-text citations and reference lists to give proper credit to the authors whose work you’ve used.


In conclusion, referencing is essential for nursing students to maintain academic integrity and produce credible, insightful, and relevant nursing capstone projects. Start with credible sources, use a consistent referencing style, add accurate in-text citations, and include a comprehensive reference list. Avoid outdated or irrelevant sources, always use the correct referencing style, add citations accurately, limit direct quotes, and, most importantly, avoid plagiarism. By following these dos and don’ts, you can produce quality work that is both insightful and engaging.


Q. What is a reference list?

A reference list is a comprehensive list of all the sources you have cited in your paper.


Q. What is an in-text citation?

An in-text citation is a brief citation placed within the text of your paper, indicating the source of a particular idea or quote.


Q. How do I choose a referencing style?

You should choose a referencing style that your professor prefers.


Q. What happens if I use the wrong referencing style?

Using the wrong referencing style can create confusion and inconsistencies in your paper. Consult with your professor for guidance.


Q. What is paraphrasing?

Paraphrasing is a technique that involves rewriting an author’s work in your own words without changing the original meaning.


Q. What is summarizing?

Summarizing is a technique that involves condensing an author’s work into a brief overview, highlighting the most critical points.


Q. How do I avoid plagiarism in my nursing capstone project?

Always use in-text citations and reference lists for proper credit to the authors whose work you use.

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