Growth in the number of references in engineering journal papers during the 1972-2013 period Articles uri icon


  • López Fernandino, Felipe
  • Rodríguez Ulibarri, Pablo
  • Sesma Sánchez, Laura
  • Urrea Micó, Verónica
  • Sevilla, Joaquín

publication date

  • March 2014

start page

  • 1855

end page

  • 1864


  • 3


  • 98

International Standard Serial Number (ISSN)

  • 0138-9130

Electronic International Standard Serial Number (EISSN)

  • 1588-2861


  • The number of references per paper, perhaps the best single index of a journal's scholarliness, has been studied in different disciplines and periods. In this paper we present a four decade study of eight engineering journals. A data set of over 70,000 references was generated after automatic data gathering and manual inspection for errors. Results show a significant increase in the number of references per paper, the average rises from 8 in 1972 to 25 in 2013. This growth presents an acceleration around the year 2000, consistent with a much easier access to search engines and documents produced by the generalization of the Internet.


  • number of references; citation density; engineering; citing behaviour; reference analysis