I'm preparing a research statement for a permanent position in math, but the number of pages have a strict constraint of two. So it seems I'm unable to fit in the bibliographic references in the research statement. Assuming that the the two pages do count the bibliographic references (correct me if I'm wrong!), I'm linking relevant research, instead of citing them using the


command in LaTeX: so for example, I'm writing this in my LaTeX:

\href{website}{this result is proved}

Thus, when the reader clicks on "this result is proved", s/he will be automatically directed to the "website", that has the article in question.

Is this okay, or will it be taken as an unusual practice? It's difficult to fit in the research in only two pages, but I can't see how I can also fit in the bibliographic references in the same.

  • 4
    Note that any web reference needs to be dated. If you simply link to a site and the site is modified you have no control over the result.
    – Buffy
    Feb 23, 2023 at 12:47
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    I don't click on random links incorporated in application materials...
    – Jon Custer
    Feb 23, 2023 at 14:39
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    I've genuinely never heard of anyone counting references towards a page count in this context. If you're really worried, you can Latex the references down using \tiny or whatever your smallest tolerable size is...but I really don't think links are a good alternative.
    – user137975
    Feb 23, 2023 at 19:58
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    Hyperlinks can enhance traditional references, but they can’t substitute for them. Which is more useful to a reader: “We aim to generalise [Lurie 2011 DAG VII, Thm 3.20]…” or “We aim to generalise this theorem…”
    – PLL
    Feb 23, 2023 at 23:10
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    @AnonymousM I have applied for plenty of things that have a strict page max; fit whatever you want in there but that's the limit Feb 24, 2023 at 3:34

4 Answers 4


Usually the page limit includes the bibliography in a research statement or proposal (except if explicitly stated otherwise). Keep in mind that people, especially if they want to focus on something for longer than 20 minutes, still like to print things before they read it! So a link will not necessarily work for your reviewer.

It is not unusual to link things in a proposal, but rather as an extra feature instead of the only way to access the reference. You do not know, if you referee even has access to your original PDF!

What I have seen and done myself in the past is the use of footnotes for references. Footnotes are usually allowed with smaller typeface (even down to 8pt for example in MSCA applications) and can thus save you a lot of space. You should always provide a form of citation in the text if you are referencing work.

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    Another useful technique is to use inline citations — rare in maths, but very established in the humanities — and keep them concise. “Thm. 2.12 of Derived Algebraic Geometry VII (Lurie, 2011)” is reader-friendly, unambiguous, and usually takes up less space than even a footnote.
    – PLL
    Feb 23, 2023 at 23:17

If there's a tight page limit for a posted ad, my personal assumption would be that there are a lot of anticipated applicants, and that applications are very likely to go through some sort of initial screening and sorting process. If this is the case, you shouldn't expect the person/people doing this sorting to link out of your document. There is a fair chance your link will go unclicked.

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    But it's fair to say they won't follow up written citations either. Feb 23, 2023 at 22:25
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    @user253751 Correct, but at least the reader would know the reference. Feb 24, 2023 at 1:11

I suspect from reading the comments this answer is going to be unpopular, but:

If there is no style guide telling you how to format citations, you can format them any way you like, subject to the constraint that you provide enough information for readers to find the source material if they want to. Your href-based proposal passes this test, so yes, it's OK.


No, you cannot use links to references because:

  • the style doesn't follow the norms of standard academic citations.
  • those references will not work on printed out materials.

If you do not know whether the bibliography counts as part of the page limit, contact the place you are applying to!. We can only speculate and that's not really helpful when it comes to applying for faculty positions. The stakes are high, so you have to make sure you understand any and all formatting requirements! And if they are not specified you must contact them to clarify.

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