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Now, say authors A and B are writing their second paper. Which is more appropriate, or which sounds better. Referring to their previous work as "we researched/we surveyed" or "the authors researched/surveyed". This warrants a question because, in the first case, it may sound like they are "broadcasting" their presence, while in the second case, it seems like they are "hiding" their identity.

Although, the following questions 1 (which applies for a single author case) and 2 (which refers to when there may be many authors but some of them may not share co-authorship in a new publication) are similar, they are quite different from what is intended here. Also question 3 is quite close, but I guess the question applies for use in a thesis.

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    Depends a lot on the field. – Oleg Lobachev Jun 7 '18 at 7:44
  • "Although, the following questions 1 and 2 are similar, they are quite different from what is intended here. Also question 3 is quite close, but I guess the question applies for use in a thesis." - well done for checking, but it's good practice to include summaries of what these are and why you think they're different in the question so we don't have to find out by clicking on the link. – arboviral Jun 7 '18 at 7:59
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    Ok. Thanks I have made the edit. Could you remove the above comment. – Abdulhameed Jun 7 '18 at 8:13
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I don't think it makes much of a difference; both are used widely. Some people like to write their names as well, eg. J. Doe may write, 'Doe et al [22] demonstrated...'.

The last one is important if you're submitting to a double-blind review. Between the first two, it depends on how much attention you want to draw to the previous work- it could be of prime significance, or it may be an offhand, supporting reference. In the first case, you may like to use 'we' to establish your group as an important contributor in the field. Nothing hard and fast, it's quite subjective and a matter of style- most people would consider 'the authors demonstrated' to be a more formal expression.

  • "you may like to use 'we' to establish your group as an important contributor in the field" - to make things even a bit more confusing, "the authors" can be (mis)read as a sign that you are trying to establish your group as a contributor in an important field: Intuitively, "the authors" may give readers the impression you are talking about someone else. This can convey the possibly misguided impression that various other researchers are publishing works on the paper's topic, when it's actually just you and no-one else is interested in the problem. Likewise, it can work as a technique to ... – O. R. Mapper May 2 at 10:10
  • ... make it less obvious when you're mostly self-citing and barely mention the work of other groups. – O. R. Mapper May 2 at 10:10
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A problem with "the authors" is that if there is a reference in the preceding sentence, "the authors" is ambiguous. On the other hand, the use of "we" should be avoided (not only because more neutral 3rd person is preferred, but also because "we" is ambiguous as such - example a paper written by an R&D group in a company, is "we" the authors, the R&D group, the R&D Departmnent, or the company?). What they taught me is to write "The Authors" if you refer to yourselves.

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TLDR: Cite is as any other work not done by the authors.

One advice I was given (I think specifically aimed at double-blind reviews) was to anonymise the citation. The point is that one should focus on the science: this new paper X is an improvement, an extension, or builds upon, an older paper Y. The primary point of references (in my opinion) is for the reader to be able to track the science (not the authors). So, I would suggest the following:

This work builds upon a study surveying the most common citation practices in academic literature [1].

If you want to mention the author's names, that can also be done in this neutral style:

This work builds upon a study by Abdulhameed et al. [1] surveying the most common citation practices in academic literature.

Both of these styles lend themselves to a double-blind review: upon submission, if author names are anonymised (e.g. removed from title page), nothing in either of the above examples screams "We are the authors of [1]!" but still allows the reader or the reviewer to follow the science.

While I agree with you that drawing attention to the fact that the work you are building upon was in fact authored by the same researchers comes across as "broadcasting" (and I consider it bad taste personally), I have seen such a citation style as well, and not infrequently, e.g.:

This work builds upon our previous work (the previous work by the authors / the previous work from this research group / previous results from our project X) [1], which surveys the most common citation practices in academic literature.

I would not recommend using the last citation style, since, as mentioned, I consider it bad taste, but additionally also since I have in the past seen official style recommendations and guidelines arguing in favour of the first two approaches and discouraging the last approach (from conferences and journals with a double-blind review practice).

  • "The primary point of references (in my opinion) is for the reader to be able to track the science (not the authors)" - I appreciate this point as well as this answer in general. – Abdulhameed May 17 at 1:18
  • I've seen the same point made in other related questions on this site too. And I see that the question is old so the situation you were asking advice for is long past, but I didn't find the other answers expressed this clearly so hopefully it will help somebody in the future. – penelope May 17 at 8:53

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