Anyone who has gotten into an argument over the internet or watched one in a comments section has seen that each side of the debate goes into a google search frenzy spams multiple links to "evidence" supporting their cause.

Very often, these "sources" are not unique studies that actually add to the discussion but are parroting the findings of a single study, such that the mass of citations collected can really be condensed as one lone piece of evidence. The true purpose of citing multiple pieces rather than the single study is to make the person's argument seem stronger than it really is.

What is the term for this? (I know doing a similar pattern for resumes is called resume padding but when I search for the word "citation padding" there does not seem to be any such term) It is a behavior I've seen in any polarized argument, ranging from wikipedia editing wars, to youtube comments, and even academic debates.

Thank you.

4 Answers 4


I'd say you are looking for the name of a type of fallacious reasoning. There's a great list at Wikipedia in the article appropriately titled “List of fallacies”.

There's argument from repetition, which is a sort of rhetorical fallacy where you simply repeat the same argument over and over.

But it might be better described as double counting. That's useful when probablistic reasoning is being abused. And I suppose an argument from the existence of many studies is a sort of probabilistic argument. Basically the probabilistic claim would be that the more supporting studies you can find, the more probable the claim is to be true. But by sneaking in the same study multiple times you are slanting that probability.


From Merriam Webster


to expand or increase especially with needless, misleading, or fraudulent matter

  • pad the sales figures

— often used with out

  • they pad out their bibliographies —J. P. Kenyon

The NOAD makes the direct connection with writing:


superfluous material in a book, speech, etc., introduced in order to make it reach a desired length.

While the intended effect here, according to do NOAD is greater length, this greater length often goes hand in hand with greater credibility.


over-embellish. TFD

To embellish excessively; to render too ornate or complicated.


Argumentum ad populum (appeal to widespread belief, bandwagon argument, appeal to the majority, appeal to the people) – a proposition is claimed to be true or good solely because a majority or many people believe it to be so.

Reference provided by MetaEd

“I'd say you are looking for the name of a type of fallacious reasoning. There's a great list at Wikipedia in the article appropriately titled ‘List of fallacies’.”

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