Is is perfectly appropriate to refer reviewers to other papers for understanding a concept or writer must include the concept in his paper too? What should be done while keeping brevity, plagiarism and complexity of idea in mind?

  • Sorry, I'm not sure what you mean. Which reviewers? Papers sometimes include a Background section that cites some foundational papers. Or Related Information.
    – Buffy
    Commented Jan 7, 2020 at 12:20
  • 2
    Plagiarism should entirely be taken out of the equation here. Paraphrasing and appropriately referencing other people's work are standard tools for every researcher. Commented Jan 7, 2020 at 14:22
  • 1
    How do other papers in your research area do it?
    – Bryan Krause
    Commented Jan 7, 2020 at 14:32

1 Answer 1


It depends.

  1. What do your readers need to know to appreciate the main result of your paper? If your paper builds on the ideas of others, these ideas must be stated (included explicitly) and accompanied by a citation. If you simply note in passing that there are other relevant ideas, reference may be enough. Having said that, as a reviewer, I will question and discourage an excessively long list of references [1-22]. Authors should do their work to identify and tell the reader what they can find in each paper separately, not dump the whole reading list on them.
  2. How long is your paper? If you are writing a 100+ page manuscript, then brevity is not as important as if you were restricted to 1 or 2 pages for your extended abstract.
  3. Whom are you writing for? If this is a highly specialised journal, you can expect your readers to already know some sacred texts by heart, and a reference is sufficient. For a more general readership, you need to support your reader and tell them more , i.e. explain the main ideas and then refer to the texts.
  • 1
    Point 3 is the key one: Before you start writing, you should think about and define who your audience is. That includes thinking about what they will know and what you have to explain. Commented Jan 7, 2020 at 17:11
  • the readers of my domain already know some basic key points that keep repeating in almost every research paper. My problem is: I got an idea form a paper of another domain and I have implemented in my research field. To whom I am writing for, may not know that idea. So should I refer them to a specific research paper for learning basics and advanced ideas or should I have to include them in my paper. If I add them in my paper, it seems useless and I can't explain in detail as original author did. But I don't want reviewer to convey that I superficially know the idea.
    – foobar
    Commented Jan 11, 2020 at 8:48

You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .