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I am writing a report on CPUs and I need to constantly need to cite technical information from a single reference multiple times throughout the report, specifically the datasheet for an Intel processor. Should I be citing my reference every time I cite some information from the datasheet like this?

This sentence has some information. [1]
....4 pages later...
This sentence has more information. [1]

Or should I only need to reference the data sheet once? I've searched around and it seems like it's a bad thing to cite the same reference multiple times, but I'm not sure how to handle this.

  • 4
    Cite it each time. – JeffE Sep 27 '15 at 3:23
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The most important principle to follow is that the source of the information that you are discussing should always be clear to a reader. I thus find the following citation heuristics useful:

  • When you present a single statement in isolation, as in your example, each such statement should be individually cited.
  • When you are presenting a few statements in a chain, the first should have a citation, and the others be connected by prose. For example:

    The Toast-o-matic processor has an unusual 19 bit word size [1]. It is also notable for its grilled cheese coprocessor and unusually high power demands. Strong cooling is required, as the specifications note that its browning module is capable of attaining temperatures of more than 500F.

  • For larger contiguous blocks, such as a full paragraph or section, there should be an explicit delineation of the region covered by the citation. For example:

    In this subsection, we briefly review the specifications of the Toast-o-matic processor[1]. The Toast-o-matic processor has an unusual 19 bit word size. It is also notable...

2

I usually follow this rule:

Any information on the paper can be classified as:

  • Outstandingly common knowledge (including a general reference - book/etc),
  • From another article (and you put the reference),
  • Original contribution from your work (no ref. needed!).

And I agree that is distracting to keep citing the same thing over and over again. What I usually do in this case is to say "we adopt the definitions from...[X]" and then I don't cite that source again in the following text, while mentioning stuff from that work. That way you make clear it is not your original work and where it is from without having to spam references.

Of course, if I have to cite it again, far from that text, with other references in the middle, I'd do the regular thing again.

Basically, in your case, I'd guess you could say something like "Using the information from the datasheet [X], ..." then do the whole thing without citing until you reach the next context...

0

I would say that it depends on the chosen (or prescribed) publication style guide and the frequency of citations across your document. If the frequency is several other pages (like four pages apart, as in your example), I do not see any serious reasons to avoid repeating the reference citation.

Generally, citing the same reference multiple time is not considered a bad thing, at least, as far as I know. Having said that, this aspect of writing is very likely to be also dependent on best practices or customs in a particular discipline or area of research.

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