I came across this article which has a section named uncited references.

Why it is there and what is the purpose of that section?

  • This is an unnecessary originality of the authors of that article. Commented Nov 14, 2015 at 13:42

2 Answers 2


Note that the article you linked to is a review article. A review article summarizes primary literature, often reporting on the most important findings regarding a particular question or questions being addressed. In reviewing many articles, there may be papers that the author(s) reviewed in order to derive the results and major findings of the paper, but that didn't have anything interesting or exemplary of the major findings to report/cite directly in the manuscript. In that case, the author(s) would still need to cite the paper somewhere because it was part of the data collection component of the manuscript.

Journals may deal with those references in different ways. When feasible, authors may have few enough references such that they fit into a table in the manuscript, or they may report papers used in the data collection as supplementary data. If neither of those options is used, the author must cite those papers somewhere in the manuscript because they were a part of the study, and an "Uncited References" section may be one option for doing that.


I have seen this a couple of times before in published works. In my fields, it does not occur too often.

Uncited references refer to relevant papers, books etc related in some way to the study in the paper, but were not directly cited in the study itself (they are included in the References section). Essentially, it is an 'additional reading list'.

This can potentially add some legitimacy to the study by listing related published peer review research, but also could be seen as unnecessary 'clutter'.

  • 7
    +1. This practice is often frowned upon - if a reference is relevant to your work, you should explain how it is relevant and cite it in the text (then it won't be uncited any more), and if it is not relevant, it shouldn't be in an "uncited references" section, either. Commented Oct 27, 2015 at 7:55
  • @StephanKolassa yes, that is quite true - I have added that it can also be seen as unnecessary clutter - I saw a paper with the 'uncited reference' list far larger than the cited list - it was very distracting.
    – user41783
    Commented Oct 27, 2015 at 7:57
  • 2
    Interesting. I only knew about the difference between "references" (items cited in the paper) and "bibliography" (relevant readings on the topic but not cited in the paper). The phrase "uncited references" is new to me.
    – FraEnrico
    Commented Oct 27, 2015 at 8:12

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