I've found myself extensively referencing parts of theses and dissertations for my own research paper. The IEEE editorial style manual suggests that they should be referenced in the following form:

[1] J. K. Author, “Title of thesis,” M.S. thesis, Abbrev. Dept., Abbrev. Univ., City of Univ., Abbrev. State, year. [2] J. K. Author, “Title of dissertation,” Ph.D. dissertation, Abbrev. Dept., Abbrev. Univ., City of Univ., Abbrev. State, year.

I have a 120 page paper that I reference heavily and I find it unusual that there aren't any suggestions or examples that attempt to reference parts of theses or dissertations. I feel like readers would be dissinterested to pursue the paper to locate the source information.

Perhaps I am confused about how frequently references are pursued by readers? When reading internet articles, or PDFs from research papers that aren't published in an academic institution, I enjoy how authors place hyperlinks to provide further reading on information that readers might wish to pursue further. Could it be that readers aren't really engaged into further pursuing references and that it's not an issue if I don't reference parts of these or dissertations?

2 Answers 2


According to the third edition of How to Write and Publish a Scientific Paper that I have, one should list only significant, published references. References to unpublished data, papers in press, abstracts, theses, and other secondary materials should not clutter up the References or Literature Cited section (i.e. Bibliography). If such a reference seems absolutely necessary, one may add it parenthetically, or as a footnote in the text.

I do not necessarily agree with this since, I have seen theses (at least) being cited in the Bibliography, not to mention URL's to websites (where information is more transient).

As for the use of inclusive pagination (i.e. first and last page numbers), it makes it easier for potential users to distinguish between one-page notes and 50 page review articles. The only time I have seen this done is to distinguish between articles/chapters in @journal, @incollection, @book or @inbook type references to say the least. Typically, the style has been to include all pages of the reference rather than a subset of pages. If you want to make reference to a particular page or chapter of a dissertation or thesis, however, you may do so in your text along with the citation. For example,

In chapter 1 of Micciancio's PhD thesis [1]....blah.

Where [1] appears beside the reference to Micciancio's PhD thesis in the Bibliography. At least, that's how I've seen others do it.

Ex-citing stuff, isn't it...? ;-)

P.S. Here are a couple of examples of how referenced articles, books and theses appear in the Bibliography using the IEEE style.

[1] Bart Preneel, “The state of cryptographic hash functions”,
    in Lectures on Data Security, I. Damgård, Ed.,
    Berlin Heidelberg, January 1999, vol. 1561/1999, pp.
    158–182, Springer-Verlag.

[2] Wenbo Mao, Modern Cryptography Theory and Practice,
    Prentice Hall, 2004.

[3] Eli Biham and Adi Shamir, Differential cryptanalysis of
    the data encryption standard, Springer-Verlag, London,
    UK, 1993.

[4] Xiaoyun Wang and Hongbo Yu, “How to break MD5 and
    other hash functions”, EUROCRYPT 2005, pp. 19–35,

[5] Bart Van Rompay, Analysis and Design of Cryptographic
    Hash Functions, MAC Algorithms and Block
    LEUVEN, Kasteelpark Arenberg 10, 3001 Leuven-
    Heverlee, June 2004.

Note that the first citation is from an @inprocedings type reference, while the fourth is from a @journal. The second and third citation are @book type references, while the fifth is a thesis. Note that the above references were generated using BiBTeX. Although it is possible to add inclusive pagination to the @book and @thesis type references, BiBTeX will ignore them. I have tried and tested this for the @thesis style at least.

  • Great answer! I was just thinking about the IEEE citation style when answering a question over on English SE. And actually, yes, it is very cool stuff you are citing! I can only read about that stuff (breaking MD5, new/improved cryptographic hash functions) for fun, wish I could do it all day long. Dec 18, 2011 at 23:04
  • Thanks for that. If you are interested, there is a group on the Stack Exchange dedicated to Cryptography. Here's the link: Cryptography.SE. Go for your life.... ;-)
    – Bill
    Dec 19, 2011 at 23:55

Citing specific pages of a long source is quite common. There are two ways of doing it:

  1. Cite the page number(s) along with the reference number in the body of the text, e.g. [12, pp140-142], or [Smith 90, pp140-142].

  2. Give each reference in the body of the text a different number, and then list them using "ibid". For example:

[12] J. K. Author, "Title of thesis", ... , pp140-142.

[13] Ibid., p42.

[14] Ibid., pp10-12.

  • The citation style for books defines how chapters, sections and pages can be referenced ch. xx, sec. xx, pp. [xx/xx-xx] at the end of the reference. Additionally, when referencing a particular chapter, the format "Title of chapter" in Title of book is used. It would be common sense that I can specify the location of the referenced text in a thesis or dissertation. But since the style document doesn't include any specification, and I can't find any paper with references that can support it, I'm really left confused.
    – kron
    Sep 18, 2010 at 22:41
  • Can you not just use the same format as is used for books?
    – Steve Melnikoff
    Sep 18, 2010 at 22:51

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