Citations not starting from [1]?

So you’re writing your thesis, and you’ve made very sure to use \bibliographystyle{IEEEtran}, or another style that numbers your citations sequentially throughout your thesis. Of course you would then expect that the first citation in your first chapter is [1], right? Right? So why does it not start from [1] in your own thesis; the first citation is some random number [16] or something??

The most likely cause is that you’ve used a \cite{...} somewhere in your \section, \subsection etc., or in a \caption{...}. So the compiler would see these \cite first when they appear in the table of contents, list of figures and tables: and you would likely see your citations [1], … [16] appearing in those lists.

Citations not starting from [1]
Citations not starting from [1] in “main text” despite using IEEEtran bibliography style
A quick solution to get around this is to load \usepackage{nottoccite} in your preamble: this would ensure that the sequential numbering of citations will not start in \tableofcontents, \listoffigures, \listoftables.

Demo using notoccite package
Sample code and output when using notoccite with citations

Happy LaTeXing!