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Other Is there a limit on the number of references for a PhD.....

  1. Mar 29, 2016 #1
    ... literature review that we are thinking of attempting to publish?

    The review will be around 20,000 words and currently I have around 16000 words and 230 references, which seems quite a lot, is there a limit to how many references are present in a published review?

    This is not a thesis, but a general review of the topic I am doing in my 1st year of the PhD. The subject is Physics / Chemical Engineering based.

    Thanks for any advice.
  2. jcsd
  3. Mar 29, 2016 #2


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    There's no hard limit that I'm aware of. The format usually depends on the journal though. Referees and editors will usually require that the references are directly relevant to the points that are being made in the review and not simply a tally of articles that match a specific set of keywords.

    You might want to look at previous reviews in the journal you're targeting and see how many references are typical and then aim to keep your own number close to that.

    EDIT: Also, for what it's worth, typically editors will look for reviews to be written by people who have already published extensively on the topic - at least in my experience. So you may have an uphill battle if this is based on your PhD literature review.
  4. Mar 29, 2016 #3
    Thanks for the advice. I will definitely check to ensure references aren't simply there for tallying, i will also check other papers' numbers (although I am sure they have maybe 50-100 less than mine) thanks! Yes, I'm aware on the experience front, however the aspect of the topic has not been studied extensively and there is very little in the way of reviews, perhaps 3 or 4 that I have seen. Regardless of whether its published or not I'm hoping it will form the base of my thesis and at least I've written quite a lot in the first year in preparation for the potential book I will have to have written at the end of it all!

    Thanks again for your help, very useful!
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