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I already wrote a paper draft using inline citations like the following:

However, [12] argues that ...

Here I use "argues" instead of "argue" because the citation "[12]" acts as a singular noun (i.e., the paper), regardless of how many authors that paper has.

Now, I must change my citation style to the following format:

However, Smith et al. [2018] argues that ...

Must I change "argues" to "argue", since the subject is plural (i.e., multiple authors)? Or can the phrase "Smith et al. [2018]" still refer to a singular paper, meaning "argues" is still correct? Is it better to be consistent and always use a singular verb (I have many such constructions with single and multiple authors), or should the verb plurality depend on the number of authors?

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  • Please take a look at this and this, I believe between the two you will find your answer. If not, please mention why you feel your question is different. – AppliedAcademic Jun 13 '18 at 6:11