6

I am limited to a set number of pages for a research paper I am writing. One trick that I thought of was to find large 'review' papers that talk about a lot of things.

For instance:

Bubble sort [1] is a great tool for sorting. 
So is merge sort [1] and also quick sort [1].
Make sure to understand the type of data you 
have, because certain algorithms can take 
advantage of that [1].


[1] Comparing different sorting algorithms - Peter

This is a bit of an exaggeration but - would my paper be negatively reviewed if I cited a single paper too many times? Again, I am really pressed for space.

Note: I am new to writing btw

9

First of all you should cite original sources. The review paper can be cited for whatever conclusions or original work stem from it, not for whatever sources it, in turn cites. In your example, citing the same sources over and over again in a single paragraph is unnecessary. You are better of starting the paragraphs stating that the information is sourced from [1] in some way.

In general, citing a single source can be reasonable if it is a really original work and the only possible source for much information. This is, however, rarely the case and so my thought is that regardless of the situation, most will see it as somewhat suspicious. It all depends on whether the paper really is the only source for the information.

So, general advice is: avoid doing what you outline, unless it is the only possible way (from the point of view that no other sources exist.

Despite having constraints on length, you should be able to fit a reasonable number of references in. I am sure that you may have to really think twice about your text. I have certainly been in situations where I have has to ask myself if each end every sentence written is () necessary and (b) concise enough.

  • I don't agree that you always need to cite the original. It depends on context. For example, this example uses stuff that's widely known. If you need to briefly reference lots of general stuff, pointing to a review is a good approach, rather than sending the reader all over the place for small points. I also often point to something other than the original because the result can't be easily be identified in the original. Survey articles are there to draw scattered ideas together into a coherent whole. – Jessica B Jun 19 '16 at 6:28
8

For (real) reason of space you can surely cite a review paper or a book, but, to reduce the number of citations, I would do it in a different way with respect to your example.

For instance:

Common sorting algorithms are the bubble, the merge and the quick sort (see [1] and references therein for more details).

or

Common sorting algorithms are the bubble, the merge and the quick sort (see [1] for a review of their properties).

0

Depending on the field, you can often find several pieces of research to support your point. Making your point by citing several pieces is probably stronger, in fact. Following your sample, if there were three pieces of research that supported bubble sorting, and two different pieces for quick sort, you might say this instead:

Bubble sort [1, 2, 3] is a great tool for sorting. So is merge sort [1] and also quick sort [1, 4, 5]. Make sure to understand the type of data you have, because certain algorithms can take advantage of that [1].

[1] Comparing different sorting algorithms - Peter [2] Bubble sorting algorithms - John [3] More bubble algorithms - Leanne and Yari [4] Only Quick sort - Paul [5] Quick Sort is Great - Julia

^^ In the above, you maintain brevity, while keeping a strong argument. Hope this helps. Good luck.

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