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Learning on Screen – Audiovisual Citation Guidelines: Second Edition

Learning on Screen will publish the second edition of Audiovisual Citation Guidelines in January 2018 after the launch at Learning on Screen’s Members’ Day event on 1st December 2017.

This publication sees a comprehensive overhaul of the guidelines with major additions to the new media section. These include further Games citations; and, for the first time, how to cite Apps being listed. It has been compiled after consultation with Learning on Screen members and input and guidance from the publication’s steering group.

These changes are in the original spirit of the publication; when the guidelines were first published in 2013 (compiled by Dr Richard Hewett and Dr Sian Barber), it was always envisaged that they would be updated to ensure that they encapsulated developments in new media and other areas. As Richard Hewett stated in his 2013 Viewfinder article:

While designed to encourage best practice among users, they are in no way intended as prescriptive; rather than being a definitive, finished product, they remain open to future updates and feedback, ensuring that they can effectively respond to advances in technology, the development of new media platforms and above all the needs of the user.

The first edition of the Audiovisual Citation Guidelines was originally created as part of the larger Learning on Screen’s Shared Services project, which was funded by HEFCE and ran from 2011 to 2013. The Guidelines were prompted by the 2011 HEFCE/Jisc report, Film and Sound in Higher and Further Education: A Progress Report with Ten Strategic Recommendations, where Paul Gerhardt and Peter B. Kaufman highlighted the lack of appropriate referencing standards, stating that:

For academics to gain greater confidence in the use of moving image and sound content in research and publication, they will require the standardisation of citation and the assurance that collections will hold materials and sustain collections on the same basis as print material.

Learning on Screen responded to the report by inviting academics, researchers and journal editors to form a steering group to create a set of guidelines that would establish a consistent referencing model for audiovisual material in higher and further education. At that time, looking at the standard models of citations, it was clear that none were comprehensive enough to cover the complexities of audiovisual material.

The first question for the steering group was how to cite media items not covered by traditional texts, such as:

  • extra features commentary from a DVD or feature film
  • an art installation
  • amateur film footage
  • a television advert accessed online
  • a non-broadcast radio programme accessed from an archive
  • an audio podcast of a lecture
  • an app
  • a vidcast

The second question was just as crucial: how do you create guidelines that understand the complexities of the medium but still provide a simple and clear solution?

The conclusion the steering group came to was that a new set of guidelines was needed. This meant a new set of criteria would have to be created. It was decided that the Guidelines would be divided into five categories:

  • Film
  • Television
  • Radio
  • Other Audio (e.g. archival recordings)
  • New Media

‘New Media’ could refer to purely online or digital content, or materials such as video games, which would be difficult to reconcile with other media. Each of these categories has its own conventions, yet could be referenced in a manner that provided a strong sense of overall consistency. Certain information is designated as mandatory – dependent on the nature of the material being cited – while other, additional, details could be included as and where appropriate or desirable.

This publication aimed, and still aims, to establish an authoritative and accessible set of guidelines that is applicable to a wide range of different users across all disciplines. Covering film, television programmes, radio programmes, audio recordings, DVD extras, clips, trailers, adverts, idents, non-broadcast, amateur and archive material, podcasts, vodcasts and games, it also includes style guidance on citations in reference lists and in-text citation. By following these recommendations, references can be unambiguously traced back to a unique item at any time in the future.

The Guidelines, while similar to familiar bibliographic styles used for books and journals, cater expressly for moving image and sound. They are not intended to be prescriptive, but instead aim to encourage best practice in citing any kind of audiovisual item.

Thanks are due to all the members of the steering group, the Learning on Screen membership and all of who contributed to the ongoing success of the Audiovisual Citation Guidelines.

The Guidelines will be reviewed periodically. Any comments and feedback can be sent to: – or join the discussion by tweeting @LearnonScreen.