I really do like the Cryptography StackExchange, but as long as I know requesting references is not allowed. I was wondering whether any form of reference request is accepted?

The point is that, there are plenty of people here that are experienced with cryptography, and are doing research too. And many that are new to the research part, and are trying to find the right references (papers/books/articles) to read. For example, I started developing interest about leakage-resilient cryptography, but unfortunately, I don't know where to start, and how to proceed. Simply, I don't know which papers to read, and I don't know where to request reference. Yes, one can always Google, and it will provide huge amount of papers and stuff, but you just can't start with any paper. It's good to start in one area with the initial works, or some survey papers, and then build up into the more specific things that interest you, and this kind of guideline can only be provided by already experienced people, offering references and path. This reference request works quite fine in MathOverflow, where I have seen many questions where people ask about references.

So, to sum it up, what would be a way to request references about certain field of cryptography in this site?

  • 2
    $\begingroup$ Definitely take a look at this answer and this question. That should provide some pretty good guidance. $\endgroup$
    – mikeazo
    Commented Jun 22, 2016 at 11:49
  • $\begingroup$ Well, I presume you know something about leakage-resilient crypto. In that case you will always be able to formulate some kind of interesting question (after looking for dupes, of course). Then you can tag the question for a reference request in or you sneak in a comment about where somebody retrieved the information and if that's a good book for starters. You can kinda work around these things, in other words. $\endgroup$
    – Maarten Bodewes Mod
    Commented Jun 27, 2016 at 17:19

2 Answers 2


Besides what @mikeazo already pointed to

Definitely take a look at this answer and this question. That should provide some pretty good guidance.

… there’s also the “reference-request” tag description which might help get a “feel” for things.

All in all, things related to reference requests generally boil down to the fact that you have to make sure your question does not end up being “put on hold” based on the following close reason:

“Requests for literature, software or similar recommendations are off-topic here. For details, see: Do we want “literature recommendations” and similar “list/subjective questions”?”

Depending on the individual question(s) you have in mind and how you formulate things in the related description(s), reference requests are very well on topic.

Yet, always be aware that there’s this fine line between a “reference requests” and something that may look like one, but actually is more of an off-topic “literature recommendation request”.

Sometimes, describing research efforts and narrowing things down to a specific area/theme/whatever helps draw that line and sometimes it doesn’t. As with many things in life, it strongly depends on the details! In the end, it’s up to you to decide if the question(s) you have in mind would be able to avoid attracting close-votes for being nothing but “recommendation requests”.


You asked how to ask those kinds of questions. Here are two guidelines that will help:

  • Identify specific requirements in your question. Make sure they are objective requirements, not subjective ones (e.g., don't ask for the "best" way to do something, as different people may have different opinions about which one is best or which evaluation criteria are most important).

  • Before asking, do a literature search for related work. See How to do a literature search for details of how to do that. Then, show us a summary in the question of all of the papers you've found and an analysis of how it does or doesn't meet your requirements.


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