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In recent years

  1. the number of authors working on a paper is growing to be quite large,
  2. the titles are getting more and more lengthier and intricate to distinguish between the state of the art while still trying to be self-explanatory.
  3. the list of references are growing. One cannot imagine to be interdisciplinary and be stingy on the number of citations.

This leads to a massive list of reference at the end of many paper, each sometimes taking 4 if not more lines in a standard Latex document. Also, the names of the authors can be quite long in many instances.

It just doesn't make sense to include references towards the maximum page limit of a conference or a journal. It not only discriminates those with long names (leading them being cutoff from the citation), it also constraints the entire research community to only make marginal/tangential contribution so to limit the size of the references.

What should be limited instead is self-citation. But even that can be disputed.

Is there any good reason why the reference page contributes to the total number of pages these days?

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Traditionally, one goal with length limits is to reduce costs related to printing, typesetting, and distribution. If that factor is at play, it makes perfect sense to include references and author lists in the length limit. It has some unfortunate consequences (undercitation, in particular), but the journals/conferences have to decide what they value more.

  1. the list of references are growing. One cannot imagine to be interdisciplinary and be stingy on the number of citations.

Unfortunately, I can easily imagine that. Some "glossy" journals even have rather low limits/guidelines for the number of citations allowed.

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