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What is the standard way for citation in research paper and journals?

  1. In the paper:

    This result3 is cited from [3].
    This result1 is cited from [1].
    This result4 is cited from [4].
    This result2 is cited from [2].

    In the reference section:

    [1] cited from here
    [2] cited from here
    [3] cited from here
    [4] cited from here

  2. In the paper:

    This result1 is cited from [1].
    This result2 is cited from [2].
    This result3 is cited from [3].
    This result4 is cited from [4].

    In the reference section

    [1] cited from here
    [2] cited from here
    [3] cited from here
    [4] cited from here

Is approach 1 also valid for a research paper?

  • Usually you do not do the numbering manually. For LaTeX you just use bibtex and the style file from the journal will contain the correct format for this journal (e.g. "amsalpha" or "plain"). Tools like modern versions of Word have systems for managing a list of references as well and some journals provide templates, too. – allo Mar 24 at 22:22
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As already noted by Dennis Schmoers, in most cases, the citation style will be dictated by the journal and the best way is to let a software deal with this for you, so you can switch to whatever the journal wants, once you choose or switch journals.

With that being said, your first choice is not very popular for the following reason: A numeric citation style (as opposed to citation by author name) has the advantage that you do not clutter the paper with citations. If you additionally order numeric references by appearance, you gain that when citing many references at once, they are usually together in the reference section (so the reader does not have to go back and forth or somehow memorise them when looking them up).

Compare the following:

  • Typical author–name style:

    Blockchain is important (Aaronson 2011, Smith 2017, Doe 2015, Numberwrangler 2014, Zytschinsky 2013).

  • Typical numerical style:

    Blockchain is important [1–5].

  • Your first style:

    Blockchain is important [1, 18, 5, 13, 27].

Your first style combines the disadvantages of both other styles: You do not know who is cited, more space than necessary is occupied by citations, and when you actually want to look up those citations in the reference list, they are scattered all over the place.

If you impose alphabetical order on your numeric citations, the only advantage that you gain is that it is easier to see whether a certain paper is cited at all – if you know the name of the first author. This is something I would not consider so important, and also if I want to know something like this, I usually have the paper on a computer, where I can do a full-text search – which has the great advantage of also finding cases where the author in question is not the first one.

7

Most venues that I have experience with (in artificial-intelligence research) provide style files and examples etc. that you will have to follow, and that would also automatically determine in which order the references appear (both are possible).

In my experience, it is most common that references occur in the list of references ordered alphabetically by surname of first author in cases where, in-text, they are cited like “(author names, year)”, whereas it is most common that they occur simply in order of first in-text citation if they appear like [1], [2], etc. That's just my experience in AI conferences/journals though, I am not really familiar with other fields of science.

So, I guess the conclusion is, follow whichever guidelines the conference/journal you're targeting provide, or your own / your supervisor's / your colleagues' preferences if you're not targeting any specific venue with fixed guidelines.

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    Sidenote: Whatever you do, do it in an an automatised way that you can change to another style with a single action. – Wrzlprmft Mar 23 at 8:49
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A bibliography is usually listed in alphabetical order by author, with the references pointing accordingly.

Some papers will list the bibliography in order of the reference in the paper, but I think that is less useful to readers. If you just look at the bibliography it makes no sense.

A third possibility, that would be possible for some work, is to list the bibliography in order of publication. This can, then, indicate which works possibly contributed to the development of which others, or to show an historical continuum. It might also be used if the paper discusses the past work of a single author.

I'll suspect that most editors/journals will want alphabetical listing.


There is a chance, of course, that this is field dependent or journal dependent. Advisors are a good source of information on this, as is looking at what other papers do in your field and in the journal you want to submit to. (H/T Andreas Blass).

  • 2
    Alphabetical order is standard in bibliographies of math and theoretical computer science papers, but I've encountered bibliographies ordered in order of occurrence in the text in numerous physics paper. (I have no idea what happens in other fields.) – Andreas Blass Mar 22 at 20:27

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