is it possible to reference a citation directly?


"the expected values considering the gain and the cost of each behavior as in [9]"

or should one instead explicitly mention the authors?


"the expected values considering the gain and the cost of each behavior as detailed by Gürcan et al.[9]"

  • 4
    This is field dependent. In math, it is commonly accepted to treat the citation as a grammatical object. In some fields, this is not done. Jul 27 '18 at 8:40
  • 2
    Not only field dependant, but also which standards APA, Harvard etc.
    – Solar Mike
    Jul 27 '18 at 9:20
  • 2
    Check the guidelines of the journal you're writing for.
    – user68958
    Jul 27 '18 at 9:31

As the comments have noted, it depends on the field and the referencing style. A journal will have a "style guide for authors" which will refer the appropriate referencing style as well as any idiosyncracies particular to that journal.

You will see such variety as authors being cited as cost of each behavior as detailed by Gürcan et al.[9] or cost of each behavior as detailed by Gürcan et al. (2009) or cost of each behavior[9].

If the document is not for submission to a journal then you could check previous or example submissions/documents, and in the absence of any of that you could adopt the referencing style "normally" used in your field. Or ask a colleague/collaborator/supervisor for advice if you are still unsure.


As others has correctly noted, this is journal/publisher dependent (assuming it's for journal and not for thesis; there will typically be a set of very well defined rules at the university for thesis).

Having said that, if you are unable to find specific information, don't worry. The journal office will typically send it back telling you exactly what changes to make. This step would happen before it goes to the editor, so it is unlikely to negatively impact review.


First, it is indeed journal, style, or field dependent.

Papers that refer to works as 1 or [4,7,12,13,20] are difficult to read and communicate very little sense of timeline. This may be appropriate but I personally believe this method should be avoided where possible.

To answer you directly, your citation attempt in the question is certainly feasible from some journals and fields. I would do what is best for your paper's voice as it communicates to your readers.

I believe my stated position is consistent with that of Dr. Gerald Brown, a National Academy of Engineering (NAE) member and professor at the Naval Postgraduate School. See below. I welcome differing perspectives and views from other disciplines.

Brown, Gerald G. 2004 "How To Write About Operations Research," PHALANX, Vol. 37, No. 3, p. 7. Accessed 27 July 2018.

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