Related to my work is a large project, with many publication. There is not a single recent publication that is particularly related to my work, and most of the publications have a particular focus on some aspect of that project that is less related.

What is the best way to reference that project’s work in general?

As my advisor advised against citing something too old, my current approach is to pick the latest entry on their publication list that roughly covers the project as a whole. In this case, it is the invited talk at a large conference, so I am not sure if it is the best choice.

If you care about the details: The field is computer science, and I want to reference the CompCert project (publication list).

  • 3
    Most projects have a "The XY Project - Towards Revolutionising IT and the Life of Everything that Lives" paper. This is usually what you cite when you want to refer to the project as a whole, and not any specific technical content. Alternatively, I have simply cited the project webpage in the past.
    – xLeitix
    Feb 20, 2015 at 14:08

2 Answers 2


pick the latest entry on their publication list that roughly covers the project as a whole

This sounds like the best you can do in this situation. You should clarify that you are referring to the project as a whole, e.g., by writing:

... as found by the CompCert project (e.g., Foo & Bar, 2012; see also http://compcert.inria.fr)...

The "e.g." clarifies that this is an example publication. I like xLeitix' suggestion of citing the project website.

In this particular instance, I notice that there are no publications after 2012, so it seems like the project is finished, is it? In such cases, people might have a capstone publication "The CompCert project: overview, lessons learned and the way forward" that you could cite - which of course won't help you if the project is still ongoing.

Finally, you could of course contact the project's principal investigators and ask them how they would like the project to be cited. It would be a good idea to put such a piece of information somewhere prominent on the project website.


Since software usually isn't peer reviewed, there's often a so-called marker paper that serves as the paper the authors want everyone to refer to when giving credit to the project for the software itself. These papers usually have a title like "FooBaz: the Frobinator for Multi-core Systems" or some such thing. In this case "Sylvie Boldo, Jacques-Henri Jourdan, Xavier Leroy, and Guillaume Melquiond. A formally-verified C compiler supporting floating-point arithmetic. In ARITH, 21st IEEE International Symposium on Computer Arithmetic, pages 107-115. IEEE Computer Society Press, 2013" seems like a pretty good overview of the project (from the title), but I haven't read it.

As we say around here, you should only cite works you've read, so you should read whatever you end up citing.

  • Right, I use such marker papers for, e.g., the Isabelle theorem prover. I could not find a good one here, though. The one that you cite puts emphasis on the floating point part, which would be unrelated to my part (but thanks nevertheless!). Feb 20, 2015 at 14:22

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