In my Literature Review, I mention the authors of the published papers I use and the results found in their study. My question is whether I should reference the author's credentials alongside the field in which they belong to or is this unnecessary?

Ex.1 (With) "Joakim Ruist, a researcher in the department of economics at Gothenburg University, studied the effects of refugees on public finance, finding similar results."

Ex.1 (Without) "Joakim Ruist studied the effects of refugees on public finances, finding similar results."

Ex. 2 (With) "In contrast to the conclusions drawn by Ruist, Alden and Hammarstedt, and Storesletten, Bo Rothstein, Professor in Political Science at University of Gothenburg, argues the sustainability of the Swedish welfare state is not under threat by refuge migration."

Ex. 2 (Without) "In contrast to the conclusions drawn by Ruist, Alden and Hammarstedt, and Storesletten, Bo Rothstein argues the sustainability of the Swedish welfare state is not under threat by refuge migration."

  • 4
    Adding the statement about Riust's location seems to imply he studied refugees in Sweden and not elsewhere. If that is relevant to your paper, state it explicitly, don't assume the reader will "join the dots". Ruist might have been studying refugees anywhere in the world. And if you think his results were biased in some way because he was based at a Swedish university, again, say so, and don't leave the reader to figure it out for themselves! – alephzero Nov 15 at 12:25

What matters is the work presented in the paper. So you just write

Ruist [1] studied the effects of refugees on public finance, finding similar results.

  • 3
    Agreed, this is correct and succint +1 – astronat Nov 15 at 7:03
  • 2
    Another upvote from me. Perhaps it depends on the discipline though? In physics I'd do what's in this answer, with an et al. if necessary. – thosphor Nov 15 at 10:34
  • 7
    @user2768 The downvote isn't mine, but it would be nice to have something better than an unsourced assertion that something is true, implicitly across all disciplines.5 hours ago. I've never seen credentials listed in an academic article, but everything I've read has been in STEM fields. I doubt that, for example, the humanities are different in this area, but they might be. – David Richerby Nov 15 at 12:37
  • 2
    @BjørnKjos-Hanssen I personally don't object to your answer, I just thought a bit more detail might be useful, which is why I bothered to provide an answer – user2768 Nov 15 at 16:41
  • 2
    In other words: in scientific papers, you don't use the argument from authority, but the authority from the argument. That is, you don't want to use the argument of someone because they have high reputation (whether it makes sense or not), but because the argument itself makes sense (whether the person has a high reputation or not). I agree there tend to be a correlation between both, but they are definitively not equivalent. – ebosi Nov 16 at 10:51

There are occasions when inclusion of author credentials is useful (especially in the general press), academic publications (generally) aren't such an occasion and I've never seen such an inclusion in academic publications. That said, I wouldn't be surprised if there is a discipline that includes author credentials in publications.

TL;DR: Without

I have the impression the academic discipline may factor into this. I cannot recall ever reading a phrasing like your "with" examples in any STEM publication, but in the social sciences this may easily be different. From my limited experience with social sciences, many papers seem to have a bit more of a "conversational" tone to them, and your "with" examples would probably fit in more in such a style than with the fairly dry and reduced style of writing that is often preferred in STEM.

That said, what I have sometimes seen as a mixture, as in:

Conversely, researchers at the University of Gothenburg [1] have stated ...

That is, I have seen people mention the place where the research was conducted, but not the credentials. Obviously this would happen if it could have at least some tangential relevance where this research has been conducted. In your example, if the other researchers were outside of Sweden a reader may be inclined to put more trust into a statement on the Swedish welfare state from researchers actually working in Sweden versus people who only look at it from the outside. It goes without saying that this is simply not the case in most STEM publications (although, as I wrote, I have seen it come up very occasionally).

  • 6
    I have no experience with social sciences, but it might be more important to mention the place because local habits / laws / ... will have an impact on people's behaviour; and the same experiment performed twice in, say, New York and Gothenburg, will almost certainly yield different results. In contrast, an experiment in a STEM discipline should yield the same result in both cities. – Sabine Nov 15 at 11:03
  • @Sabine "In contrast, an experiment in a STEM discipline should yield the same result in both cities" Not necessarily! There may be physical differences between the locations as well (temperature, humidity, even the force of gravity may be slightly different). – JAB Nov 15 at 23:23
  • I am in the social sciences. This would be an exception, rather than the norm. I suppose that one could find this relevant if one were comparing the results of several studies and the researcher's country location (or country of origin, perhaps?) might be relevant. But, once again, I have not seen it directly. – Dawn Nov 16 at 18:23

I also have never seen in a literature review mentions of an author's credentials unless it is directly relevant to discussion. For example, during certain periods of time two different universities might have had different approaches to a philosophical orientation. In that case, noting where an individual was located at a given time might give some insight. So, an individual at the University of Chicago for Economics (neoclassical approach) might be contrasted with someone from the Austrian approach. So:

John Smith [1], while lecturing at the University of Chicago, astounded his colleagues by suggesting massive federal expenditures.

Without some note about the UofC, the astonishment would not make much sense.

The American Psychological Association (APA) guidelines suggest that academic credentials are omitted. There is a blog post here where the guidance is that:

Typically APA Style reference list entries and in-text citations do not include the authors’ academic credentials or professional titles.

This assertion is somewhat associated with section 2.02 (APA 6th edition). The MLA has similar guidlines.

There is a note that if the credentials "are relevant to the discussion" they may be included, which I think follows with my opening observation. This blog post on the MLA also suggests the omission of qualifications unless it directly makes a point:

You might, however, explain the qualifications of an author in the body of your essay if they are helpful in making your point or refuting a claim

So, based upon the OP's examples, the answer would be "without" as the titles and affiliation are not directly relevant to the discussion. The APA and MLA guidelines are in agreement on this point, I think.

  • On the other hand, your economics example sounds like the sort of thing that will make little sense to readers in 50 years' time. – David Richerby Nov 16 at 19:05

Your Answer

By clicking "Post Your Answer", you acknowledge that you have read our updated terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy, and that your continued use of the website is subject to these policies.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.