The paper I am working on contains many medical terms -- particularly pathologies -- to which I write the description of each one along with related literature for their causes in a table. For this purpose, I refer a couple of medical dictionaries.

  • Should I cite each term with appropriate dictionary I am using separately next to each definition of the term? I believe this would overcrowd my reference section.

In some cases, I merge and use multiple dictionary terms to phrase my own description of the term.

  • Hence would it be better to just have a single reference to the dictionaries such as

    The following medical dictionaries are referred for appropriate terminology: [15,16,24].

at a footnote or at the bottom of the table?

  • Should one cite a dictionary at all (for a survey paper)?
  • I don't know about medical science, but in (my area of) mathematics, I would not cite for entirely standard definitions (even the less common ones I actually do explain). I might refer to one standard reference or another in the introductory/preliminary section -- but only for the convenience of the reader, not actually quoting or paraphrasing it.
    – tomasz
    Jul 29, 2016 at 9:03
  • This does not appear to be using the tag survey-research in the way it was intended. (You have already included the tag review-article, which I gather is what you meant.)
    – Susan
    Jul 29, 2016 at 9:23
  • Thank you for the suggestion, @Susan. I've made the necessary edit to the tag list.
    – Ébe Isaac
    Jul 29, 2016 at 10:15

1 Answer 1


It depends on your target audience. If they are familiar with that medical topic, then it's not necessary.

Even if they are not familiar, citing dictionary is an inconvenient way to do it because i) the readers need to stop reading and get that dictionary, ii) most people who are not familiar with medical terms probably would not have easy access to a medical dictionary. For this reason, I will recommend having a glossary list/table or providing minimal but sufficient in-text definition. The list/table method is better for mixed audience so that the more technically inclined can read on without any problem; the in-text definition method is more suitable for generally less technically inclined audience.

I don't think you need to refer down to the page number and have multiple citations when you cite them. Dictionary is built in a way that you can find the word without page number. And if you use a list/table, then a combination of superscript symbol and a blanket citation in the footnote is also a convenient to deal with it.

In any case, seek out other similar reports or talk to the editor on how to deal with your problem. They would reveal perhaps the most common or best practices.

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