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Q&A: What is the standard number of references a paper should have?

For submitting manuscripts to international journals, in general, how many reference citations are considered acceptable? Are there any general stats on the number of citations to be used? Also, are conferences often used as citations? And what’s the exact meaning of ‘conference proceedings’? I am looking forward to getting your answers.

1 Answer

Regarding the number of reference citations, there is no specific number or range that is considered as normal or standard. You should cite just about enough sources that are required for your paper. The number of references you will use depends on how much literature exists on the topic. If you are working on a very new and original idea, you might not have too many sources to cite, while, if you’re developing a tried and tested topic, you might end up having a lot of references. It also depends on the article type: a review article is likely to have a lot more references.

Some journals might have restrictions on the maximum number of references to be used, but that is entirely a journal-specific thing, and would depend on a number of factors such as article type and word count. There are no general stats on this, but I’ve come across a couple of journals that have mentioned 50 or 60 as the maximum permissible number for a 2500-3000 word original article.

Conference proceedings are commonly cited in manuscripts. Conference proceedings are a collection of academic papers submitted to or presented at a conference and contain the contributions made by researchers at the conference.
 

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