I finished writing my internship report for a master degree. Now I am writing its abstract. Is it possible to mention a statistic study on the abstract and reference it in the bibliography or is this something bad to do ?

  • 1
    I'm not sure if I understand your question correctly, but if your report doesn't talk about X, then the abstract wouldn't mention X - it's just a summary of what is in the report; the report should have more information and detail than the abstract, but not the other way around.
    – Peteris
    Aug 14, 2014 at 8:52
  • I suggest changing the title to "Can I put references to other works in the abstract?". Your original title, "Can I reference the abstract?", suggests the exact opposite, namely whether it is acceptable to add a reference in another work that points to your abstract. Aug 14, 2014 at 10:11
  • I voted to close as a duplicate, assuming the OP meant "Can I put references to other works in the abstract?" as the title of the question. To the OP, please clarify If this is not what you meant.
    – Nobody
    Aug 14, 2014 at 11:32

1 Answer 1


If this is just an internal document that will never be seen outside your own institution, it doesn't really matter.

For a document that will be distributed outside your institution, the abstract should be fully comprehensible even if that's all you see. It's quite common for databases to include only the abstract or for it to be much easier for people to see the abstract than the rest of the document. (For example, on ArXiv, each paper's "home page" includes the abstract but you'd have to download the whole paper to see the references.) For these reasons, an abstract that says something like

We build on the statistical analysis of [5].

isn't very useful. This isn't so bad with a long reference style:

We build on the statistical analysis of Smith and Jones (2005).

is better, especially if that is a well-known paper in the field but not everything builds on well-known papers and the reference is potentially vague if Smith and Jones wrote multiple papers together that year.

The best way to do this is to give a full citation in the abstract itself:

We build on the statistical analysis of Smith and Jones (J. Interest. Res., 3(1):41–59, 2005).

Some journals forbid citations of any kind in the abstract but that seems to force people into the suboptimal "Smith and Jones" style.