In the era of YouTube, podcasts and vidcasts new pioneering guidelines, launched today, will be crucial for students, researchers and academics when they cite moving image and sound sources, or provide advice on referencing them.

The British Universities Film & Video Council’s (BUFVC) guidelines respond to the 2011 Jisc report, Film and Sound in Higher and Further Education: A Progress Report with Ten Strategic Recommendations. The report found that despite the exponential increase in the use of audiovisual material in teaching, learning and research in higher and further education, existing guidelines for the referencing of moving image and sound are often insufficient as they are based on standards developed for the written word. This has the effect of discouraging the citing of moving image and sound, as well as creating barriers in its discovery, use and re-use.

Best Practice

Professor John Ellis, professor of media arts, University of London, says: Citation exists so that you can find the source of any quotation. The rules have long since been worked out for print sources. However, for moving image and sound, no-one quite knows what to do, so references are usually imprecise and sometimes left out completely. This guide now makes it possible for any writer (even a student) to lead their readers to the exact audiovisual source they are discussing. It might seem a simple problem to solve, until you realise that there are a multitude of different types of audiovisual source!

The guidelines are practical, accessible and applicable to a wide range of different users across all disciplines. They encourage best practice in citing any kind of audiovisual item. They cover film; television programmes; radio programmes; audio recordings; DVD extras; clips; trailers; adverts; idents; non-broadcast, amateur and archive material; podcasts; vodcasts and games.

Professor Miles Taylor, director, Institute of Historical Research, University of London, says: The difficulty of referencing such important sources has only been compounded by the increasing availability of much of this material online. The wonderful new guide produced by the BUFVC cuts through the uncertainty and complexity and will undoubtedly encourage historians and researchers in other disciplines to make greater use of audiovisual source materials – whether a computer game, a television channel ident, a previously unaired radio programme or a Hollywood film. I strongly encourage journal editors in particular to add it to the guidance that they provide for authors.

Academic Working Group

To produce these guidelines, BUFVC established a working group of academics, researchers, journal editors and archivists, formed as part of the HEFCE-funded Shared Services project. Richard Ranft, head of sound and vision at The British Library, says: From the beginning of the 20th century, sound and moving image media in all their various formats have captured the most significant moments in human creativity and endeavour. Yet even in the present century, there remains doubt over the validity of referencing sound and moving images, whether in academic publishing or the popular media, due in part to the absence of accepted citation guidelines. By establishing clear instructions that are on a par with traditional bibliographic citation styles, this new publication will help unlock the vast resource that is preserved in sound and moving image archives.

This is the first edition of the guidelines and it will be reviewed periodically to respond to advances in technology, the development of new media platforms and the needs of the user. The BUFVC welcomes comments and feedback via, or join the discussion by tweeting @bufvc #AVcitation

An interactive version of the guidelines is available to download from the BUFVC website: