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One of our thesis advisers insists (not suggests) that we include the title of the journal we are citing in the introduction, one part of which is a paragraph containing some of the reviews we will be expounding more on the next chapter.

So far, almost all the studies I’ve seen only use in-line citation in their literature review. Our adviser made it seem that it is a wrong practice to do this without mentioning the title. I don’t think it is, based from what I’m usually reading and I think it’s good because it reduces the length of the paper (especially when the cited titles are loooong). Also, the title of the cited works are included in the bibliography section anyway.

Our other thesis adviser neither supports him nor discourage us from following him in this matter. (There are other times though that this happens.)

I want to do the in-line citation, but I know he’ll insist that again. If I reasoned out, he won’t listen to me (based from previous attempts).

In our university, our advisers are there just to guide us and not to grade our thesis. (But their direction in making our thesis will definitely affect our grade, of course.)

What should I do?

  • Phd thesis or other? – Dave Clarke Feb 15 '15 at 12:11
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    Citation practices vary wildly across academia. What field are you in? – E.P. Feb 15 '15 at 14:39
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    I think it’s good because it reduces the length of the paper — Why is reducing the length of the paper important? Ink is cheap. – JeffE Feb 15 '15 at 14:53
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    @JeffE: Whether or not ink is cheap is only relevant for exclusive self-printing. If the paper is something to be published, pages sometimes are not cheap, unfortunately (if at all allowed, USD 50 per extra page is very usual in some fields). – O. R. Mapper Feb 15 '15 at 16:22
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    @JeffE: Why can’t there pe page limits on theses? My own departement imposes page limits on bachelor theses (not that I agree with this). – Wrzlprmft Feb 15 '15 at 23:54
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Your advisor may be referring to or be inspired by the following: All journals I know require you to use a complete citation¹ in the rare case that you want to cite something in the abstract of your paper (example). This makes sense as there are some cases in which people only have access to the abstract and thus a stand-alone citations are desirable.

However, this does not apply to the introduction (of any kind of work) and I would not see any good reason for it. Moreover this has the following problems:

  • Unless you use this citation style throughout your thesis, it would make your citation style inconsistent, which is confusing for the reader.
  • It interrupts the regular text flow and thus makes the text more annoying to read.

Whether this is worth starting a quarrel is something only you can decide as it depends on the influence of your advisor and the risks you are willing to take. Most importantly you should find out the opinion on this by whoever will actually read and grade your thesis. If your advisor has some influence but will never read your final thesis, you could change the citation style just before printing.

Either way, you can ask your advisor whether he has any other argument for this other than his own opinion (but again you are taking a risk here, only you can evaluate). After all, he might give bad advice to other people in this regard – or we are all missing a good reason for this advice.


¹ Containing sufficient information to uniquely identify the cited work, usually author, journal and year, sometimes also the page number, but usually not the title.

  • "It interrupts the regular text flow and thus makes the text more annoying to read." < Exactly my dilemma why I asked this question. – ellekaie Feb 16 '15 at 9:30
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One of our thesis advisers insists (not suggests) that we include the title of the journal we are citing in the introduction

So do it. Questions of style are pretty much always down to taste of the involved individuals. If that for whatever reason is important to one of your advisors (although it does sound highly unusual), then why not just do it? Is that really a battle you want to fight against the person grading your thesis?

I would understand pushing back against this of this was a paper that other researchers will review, but outside from your thesis advisors, a thesis is pretty much a write-only document anyway.

  • In our uni, the advisers are not the one to grade our thesis though. Basically they're just there to guide. We have an instructor for the thesis course who'll grade us. – ellekaie Feb 15 '15 at 12:26
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    @ellekaie Have you asked the grading instructor for their opinion on this? – E.P. Feb 15 '15 at 14:41

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