How Many References Should a Dissertation Have in UK?

How Many References Should a Dissertation Have in UK?

Will people believe you if you go to Shibuya Street in Tokyo, Japan on a busy Monday and decide to shout aloud, “THE WORLD IS GOING TO END”? Will they even bother to stop and listen to you, forget about them believing?

Imagine now Will they still believe you if you did the same thing but supported your claim with numerous references from earlier research studies? Yes, they will likely make the effort to at least pause and consider your claim.

References are required whenever research is done precisely for this reason.

What is the average number of references in a dissertation? No matter whether the source provided a direct quote or just an idea that the student used, referencing is crucial in any assignment or article. Even when a student paraphrases an idea, it is crucial to cite the original work because plagiarism occurs when the source of the information is not acknowledged and the work is presented as the student’s own. References are crucial, but there is a limit, and it’s possible to have too many. Choosing the appropriate number of references can be challenging and will depend on the subject, the length of the assignment, and the tutor’s guidelines. All references must be useful and pertinent to the assignment; if they don’t provide additional information, they are unnecessary. When determining whether an assignment has too many references, there are several factors to take into account.

What is A Reference Basically

Recommending or consulting is the action. 2: a connection to something; a relation to your most recent letter. 3. Something that refers, for example. A reference or mention. b: something that directs a reader or consults to another source of information (like a book or passage), such as a sign or indication

Types of Reference

The print Reference Collection is on the first floor, in front of the Library Help Desk, as you enter the building. Online reference collections are available through library databases. 


Use to find references for further reading, identify concepts, people, and keywords, and get a general overview of a topic or background information. Although general encyclopedias are well known, there are also many subject-specific encyclopedias that are worth considering. Examples include the International Encyclopedia of Human Geography, the Encyclopedia of Nursing Education, and the Encyclopedia of Early Childhood Education. Online sources: Funk & Wagnalls of New World Encyclopedia and Britannica Library (Encyclopedia). 

Bibliographies and instructions

These offer lists of resources on a subject (books, journal articles, etc.). Make use of them to find research sources. Bibliographies list books on a particular topic or written by a particular author. Print out the 2019 Nursing Drug Guide. Online resource: Oxford Bibliographies


works with succinct, alphabetically arranged explanations for terms and concepts related to a particular subject or field of study. Typically, entries are not as long as those in encyclopedias.

list of words in a language organized alphabetically with information about each word’s meaning, pronunciation, etymology, and syllabication. Online illustrations include the New Oxford Rhyming Dictionary and the Oxford English Dictionary (which link to external websites.) and links to an external stand

Personal History Sources

These resources offer details on the existence of particular individuals. They are usually all in one volume. Who’s Who in America and Twentieth Century British Humorists are two examples. Online resources for biographical information include Biography in Context.


Handbooks are works that provide succinct, accurate information on a particular subject. They typically have one volume. Examples include the Business Plans Handbook, the Oxford Handbook Of Zooarchaeology, the CRC Handbook of Chemistry and Physics, and the Handbook of American Popular Culture, and the Handbook of Green Chemistry.

Sources of Statistics

Use to locate precise statistical data regarding a specific location and time. Sage Stats database available online. Print resource – ProQuest statistical abstract of the United States 2019

Timelines and Chronologies

Use these to compare events occurring simultaneously around the world or to see what was happening at a specific time and location. Oxford Reference Timelines.


Condcordances are a list in alphabetical order of words or phrases that can be found in a writer’s or a collection of writers’ writings. Examples -The Concordance of Federal Legislation and A Concordance to Beowulf.

References and Their Relevance

References are sources of earlier research projects carried out by trustworthy academics, which you include in your dissertation because it helps to:

  • Strengthen the evidence in your research.
  • Support your research’s claims.
  • Show how important your research is.
  • Prevent plagiarism
  • Make sure your facts are accurate and important.
  • Encourage readers to notice search gaps

All of the aforementioned details enhance the quality and dependability of your research. It is the most fundamental, important, and crucial component of any academic work a student submits. Through the support of other pertinent sources, it helps the reader better understand the idea you as a researcher are trying to convey.

Let’s face it, nobody really wants to read a research paper that isn’t supported by the correct citation, supporting data, or other proofs.

Not only that, but references also make it easier for the reader to check their own citations for additional information about your research. This provides a new perspective on understanding your research and broadens the subject matter overall.

It’s interesting to note that dissertation writers from the UK, US, Australia, and other countries help students by ensuring that their references are appropriate.

However, How Many References Are Required?

The answer to the question of how many references should be included in a dissertation varies and heavily depends on a number of different factors. These factors include

The Dissertation’s Degree level

Your dissertation can be categorized by degree level into three groups: bachelor’s, master’s, and doctoral.

A dissertation at the bachelor’s level typically has between 10,000 and 12,000 words. At the very least, 45 to 50 references will probably be required for this kind of word count, and at the very most, 100 references will also be a respectable benchmark to add references to.

Masters: A dissertation at the Master’s level has a word count that ranges from 15,000 to 25,000. A benchmark of 50 to 95 or even 100 references will probably be appropriate for this.

Ph.D.: A dissertation at the Ph.D. level typically has up to 50,000 words, but it may be even longer. This will probably require at least 150 references, with the potential for 200 or even more. That will be a good benchmark.

The Topic Idea of Your Dissertation And Average Number of References in a Dissertation

The number of references also depends on your dissertation’s thesis and subject. Your research may focus on subjects that are relatively recent, about which there is little or no information at all. If there isn’t much information available, you’ll need to add any pertinent data you can find that relates to your research topic.

Related Blog:How Do You Plan A Good Dissertation?

The academics and your university can easily reject your topic idea or your entire dissertation if there isn’t any such information available that is pertinent to your dissertation. The explanation for this is that a student at this stage is not trustworthy enough to conduct independent research without using any references.

Due to this, students are more likely to use dissertation services London provided by qualified native researchers in these situations.

On the other hand, if your dissertation topic and idea are based on a well-known concept, you will find a ton of references and research papers that are pertinent to your topic and can be added to. You can add those citations in accordance.

Some universities or institutions have different demands when it comes to their dissertation policies. Some universities will only accept master’s dissertations with 25 references, while others require at least 50. It also depends on the methodology employed, such as the use of qualitative and quantitative data, and the dissertation’s subject matter. These methodological considerations may also place restrictions on the references’ source.

The researcher’s supervisor may also have some influence because they may place limitations on or make improvements to the dissertation references.

The Requirements of Your Academic

With regard to their dissertation policies, some universities or institutions have different requirements. Many universities only permit 25 references in a master’s dissertation and accept it, while others won’t accept it without at least 50 references. Additionally, it depends on the methodology used, such as qualitative and quantitative data, and the nature of the dissertation. The source of references may be constrained by these methodological factors as well.

Additionally, the researcher’s supervisor may have some influence because they may impose restrictions or make advancements regarding the dissertation references.

Make Your Dissertation Strong

If you want to strengthen your dissertation even more, add more citations and references because this will increase its credibility. Then you must have the idea of how many references should a dissertation have. The rationale behind this is that more citations indicate that many other academics have supported your research and are thus implicitly endorsing it.

However, having too much of a good thing can be detrimental. It won’t look professional to add a lot of extra references to parts of your dissertation that don’t require them. There may be a perception that the references are tacked on or are merely for appearances.

Outstanding Dissertation

Every sentence in a good dissertation needs to be supported by pertinent citations and references. Relevant citations are required to support the research in order for the dissertation to be concise, demonstrative, and responsive to the research questions.

Additionally, university students seek out affordable dissertation writing services based in the UK, the US, and even Asia to make their dissertations stand out. 

Multiple citations for a single idea/theory

Typically, only one citation is needed for each theory or idea that was used in the assignment. Only when subsequent research has confirmed, strengthened, expanded, or refuted the theory may additional citations be necessary. Generally speaking, there should be one to three sources for each of the issues raised in the assignment.

Out-of-date citations

Sources that were published a long time ago might only make a small contribution to the assignment. When there are no instructions, it may not be a good idea to use multiple older references. In some cases, instructions will state that all sources should be no older than five or ten years. It is acceptable and even expected to make references to original articles. Nevertheless, it is probably unnecessary to include supplementary references that are older and don’t add any valuable information.

Type of Assignment

The type of assignment given may also affect how many references are cited.

Most references will be needed for a literature review paper, and all theories must be cited along with any extensions or conflicts with the theories. A literature review, or the literature review section of a paper or dissertation, will have the most references because the purpose of a literature review is to identify and report on multiple ideas found in various reliable sources.

References are needed in an argumentative essay to back up the thesis statement. However, fewer sources are required compared to a literature review, and a higher percentage of the content will consist of original thought and discussion because the purpose of an argumentative essay is analysis and critique of ideas presented, with a discussion of the various sides of an argument.

References might not be necessary for a personal essay.

The number of references suggested may vary depending on the essay’s academic level. For instance, postgraduate students are typically expected to provide more references and more in-depth research than undergraduate students.

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