Do references in the research papers' state of the art section need to be referred in chronological order? In other words, is it important that the state of the art section mentions the papers of previous research in the same order they were published? Thanks

  • 4
    Do you have an advisor you.can ask?
    – user111388
    Dec 12, 2023 at 9:02
  • Have you bothered to read a few original papers (perhaps ones you might reference?) and looked how they've structured their references?
    – Karl
    Dec 18, 2023 at 23:01

2 Answers 2


Typically, "the state of the art" is not monolithic. Rather, it consists of multiple strands or aspects. If your paper addresses the application of technique foo to problem bar, then "the state of the art" will need to look at the development of technique foo, as well as current knowledge and previous work on problem bar.

You should first of all separate your literature review into these aspects: don't mix references on foo with those on bar. Rather, explain the current state of the art for foo first, then for bar (or the other way around). If someone has already applied foo to bar, then that would be a third major section.

Within these sections, there may be logical subdivisions, like different major approaches to bar, or different flavors of foo. It makes sense to put each such subdivision into a separate paragraph or so.

Once you have found a useful level or granularity of analysis, work in a logical order, not necessarily a chronological one. Given that much of research consists of building on previous work, usually the logical order is also chronological, but it need not be. Readers are usually more interested in the logical structure, less in who published what first.

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    @DonQuiKong "bard"? Are you familiar with Foo and bar as placeholders?
    – Chris H
    Dec 13, 2023 at 10:18
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    @DonQuiKong that's the third paragraph. "Flavours" of foo (or any other placeholder) works as meaning varieties, though it's a little surprising for "flavour" to describe something that's almost but not quite "food" after all
    – Chris H
    Dec 13, 2023 at 16:23
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    Just to clarify, I did mean "foo" and "bar" in the sense that @ChrisH linked to on Wikipedia, and I was a little lost at where exactly a d was missing... I'll remember not to discuss "flavors of foo" any more in the future! Dec 13, 2023 at 16:25
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    @ChrisH: indeed you overestimate my deviousness. Dec 13, 2023 at 16:27
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    @chrish oh, maybe I miscounted the paragraphs. And for the record - I know what foo and bar are, thought I'd be funny. But I'd better learn counting before.
    – DonQuiKong
    Dec 13, 2023 at 18:36

I would say chronological order only for the first couple of citations where you are introducing the problem and field. In the sense that you should be citing the first work(s) on the topic, first, when introducing things. But after that cite in the order that makes sense for the text your writing.

  • "Cite in the order that makes sense for the text you're writing." Always.
    – Karl
    Dec 18, 2023 at 23:04

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