I have a few questions about the references in a PhD thesis in mathematics:

  1. What would be a "normal" range of items there? I am not sure if there is only a few items in the reference it may not be suitable. Would 30 be good? 50? Or 100?
  2. Is there any conventional way to order the references?
  3. When I add a paper to the reference, do I really need to read the paper? For example, I may read from some other paper that "the following result was proved in [1]". Then can I also add [1] to my reference by writing "the following result was proved in [1]", without really reading [1]? It is possible that [1] may be too long/tedious/difficult to read, difficult to find, or not in English, etc.
  • 1
    Please ask just one question at a time.
    – 410 gone
    Commented Nov 28, 2014 at 8:10
  • Thanks @EnergyNumbers, I am quite new here and am not aware of the rules.
    – Zuriel
    Commented Nov 28, 2014 at 8:33
  • That's ok, we all have to learn at the beginning. (3) has already been asked. It may be that (1) and (2) have too: it might be worth a quick search. Please do edit the question down to a single question that doesn't appear elsewhere on this site already. You'll see an "edit" link immediately below your question.
    – 410 gone
    Commented Nov 28, 2014 at 8:37
  • @EnergyNumbers, I know the "edit" function, but am not sure how to edit "to a single question that doesn't appear elsewhere on this site already". Could you edit my question?
    – Zuriel
    Commented Nov 28, 2014 at 8:42
  • 7
    Ask your advisor. That's what s/he is there for. S/he is paid to know the conventions in your field and the requirements of your university. Commented Nov 28, 2014 at 11:04

1 Answer 1

  1. 'Normal' is not really relevant. You must reference your sources. You must not artificially pad your reference section by citing things that aren't relevant. The question left then is how many standard texts etc you reference with regard to things like well-known background. This will probably depend on exactly what you study.

  2. Yes, but it depends on field to some extent. In mathematics, references are almost always ordered alphabetically by first author's surname but check your university rules first, then a standard journal or three if that doesn't pin it down enough.

  3. I'm sure this must have been answered before. If you quote something because someone else did, are you certain they were right? People make mistakes (and maybe occasionally deliberate false claims).

  • Thank you for your answer! For Question 2, is there any link to instructions you would recommend?
    – Zuriel
    Commented Nov 28, 2014 at 7:55
  • 1
    @Zuriel We don't even know what university you're at so we don't know where your university's instructions are on the web. Commented Nov 28, 2014 at 11:04
  • 2
    A supplement to Kimball's answer: In the case of several papers by the same author, the usual ordering is chronological. In the case of several sets of multiple authors, papers with the same first author are ordered with solo papers first, and the rest ordered according to the second author's surname (and then the third author, if the second is also the same, etc., and finally chronologically when all authors are the same). Commented Nov 28, 2014 at 15:39

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