8

Can a reference list for a research paper contains references for resources that are never cited in the text but was useful for the research?

  • 4
    Why would you want to provide a reference when you in fact never reference it? – Ian Nov 18 '16 at 8:04
  • Can you insert a mention of it into the writing? Even a single sentence, e.g. "This issue was further supported in, for example, X (1990) and Y (1992)." – Jeff Nov 18 '16 at 14:49
  • This question is stated in a misleading way, because answering "no" to the title means the complete opposite of answering "no" to the question text. – Federico Poloni Nov 19 '16 at 9:39
  • 1
    @FedericoPoloni I don't think that is such a big problem. An answer shouldn't just say 'no' anyway, and it's not that hard to phrase an answer to make sense. It's a lot better than the ones where the question text says 'see title'. – Jessica B Nov 20 '16 at 7:00
8

A reference list is the list of things that are referenced. A list containing other items that were used is called a bibliography.

3

No, a reference list only provides the list of references that were cited in the main text. If additional literature was useful for the research, it should be cited accordingly. Unlike a syllabus, a reference list is not just a collection of literature on a certain topic.

2

No, it can't. This is actually checked during the proofreading step and you are asked to remove all items from the reference list that have not been cited in the text. That is actually pretty common to happen (as is the opposite of missing items in the reference list) since it's easy for citations and reference list to be out of sync if you don't use a reference manager and have a lot of revisions.

  • This is pretty common? This would mean a lot of people don't use reference managers? – DSVA Nov 18 '16 at 9:45
  • 1
    Correct. I know many older colleagues who don't use them at all. There is also the problem of different reference managers used by collaborators and resulting compatibility problems. – Roland Nov 18 '16 at 9:58
  • @DSVA Yes, many people write references without a reference manager. For documents with several authors and a number of references in the 20-30 range, a reference manager is actually more hassle than help. – Cape Code Nov 18 '16 at 13:07
  • In my experience even for 10 references using a manager is less work than doing it manually. And it's also quite easy to coordinate with others, the main author handles the references and everyone else just puts down the DOI if they want to add a reference. – DSVA Nov 18 '16 at 13:25
  • 2
    @DSVA I agree. But that doesn't change that I have coauthored a number of papers where no reference manager was used. – Roland Nov 18 '16 at 13:36
-1

I think it's technically ok, but It's defininitely bad style. How was it useful and yet not worth refering to in your manuscript? It also leaves unclear which part of your research it supported.

Elsevier e.g. actually state in their author guidelines that cited references must be mentioned in the text and vice versa: https://www.elsevier.com/journals/learning-and-instruction/0959-4752/guide-for-authors#68000

  • 1
    No, it's not technically OK. – Roland Nov 18 '16 at 9:12
  • I'd go further: It is downright unethical to pad the list of references, even, or perhaps especially, if a publisher requests it to bring up a journal's impact factor. That is, unless there is a clear connection between the cited material and the current paper, the citation should be removed. – user3697176 Nov 18 '16 at 20:40
  • @Roland You are right. I added a link to the author guidelines of an Elsevier journal to respond to your criticism. – akid Nov 19 '16 at 8:03

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.