I'm writing a philosophy essay. The essay is required to answer a particular question by analyzing, in turn, four particular philosophy essays; the essay needs to follow the outline below.

  1. Restate the question.
  2. Introduction.
  3. Analyze essayW by Mills
  4. Analyze essayX by Shue
  5. Analyze essayY by Locke
  6. Analyze essayZ by Hospers
  7. Answer the question with information from essay analyses.

Where do I need to write (Author, Date) in my analyses? Each analysis will be about an essay, and will reference that essay in most of its sentences. Do I need to include the same citation in every sentence that references that essay? That seems like it would aggravate the reader.

3 Answers 3


I am not knowledgable about the specific best practices in philosophy, but I would say that you should cite in the least obtrusive fashion, while still being unambiguous.

For example, if your four essays have four different authors, and you do not cite other works by these authors, I would:

  • Cite each essay when you first introduce it, e.g. in the introduction.

  • Then avoid using citations, e.g. simply saying “Hospers relies in is essay on concepts X and Y”

  • In the first sentence to each of the separate analyses (your parts 3 to 6), make clear what essay you are looking at and cite it again:

    In this section, we offer a detailed analysis of essayY (Locke, 1698), looking in particular at …

  • Yeah, that seems like a good idea. I'll do that.
    – Hal
    Nov 1, 2013 at 20:11
  • The advice of Jeromy yields a more natural writing style. '(Locke, 1698)' is not in Chicago style; I give an example of Chicago style in my answer. Dec 9, 2014 at 11:25

I often see this issue when reading student lab reports in psychology. So for example, a student is paraphrasing a number of claims made by Smith (2000), so they write:

X is related to Y (Smith, 2000). The cause of some stuff is blah blah (Smith, 2000). Then the system does that (Smith, 2000). But several reasons for this include A, B, and C (Smith, 2000).

One problem with this form of writing is that it does not make explicit the link between statement and citation. There are many possible links between citation and statement (e.g., Smith asserted a claim; Smith conducted research and obtained a finding; Smith is one reference among many where a generally accepted fact in the field is asserted; etc.).

In general, if you are writing critical commentary about a particular article, then your writing style will need to be explicit about claims made in the target paper and what is your analysis. One way of restructuring the text is to make the author explicit in the text. E.g.,

Smith (2000) proposed that X is related to Y. He found evidence that the cause of some stuff is blah blah. He went on to show that the system does that. He proposed several reasons for this including A, B, and C.

Note the full in-text reference is provided in the first sentence. The remaining sentences make it clear that the propositions are related to the citation in the first sentence. Furthermore, the connecting words (e.g., "proposed", "found evidence", etc.) provide further information on where the propositions came from (e.g., theory, mere assertion, empirical evidence, etc.).

  • +1: Using ‹Author (DATE) said/showed/studied/...› makes a huge difference to readability. Note, though, that the comma (Author, DATE) is APA style; the comma is omitted in Chicago style. Dec 5, 2014 at 13:27

The brief answer is, yes, you need to cite your source each time you refer to it. If you have ten places you make use of a paper, be they quotations, justification of claims made, indications of further places providing supporting evidence, then each of these ten uses must be backed up by an inline citation. However, as Jeromy notes, this is not as onerous as it sounds, since if you write in a natural style and describe who carried out the work, then you only need to add the date in parentheses. The Chicago Manual of Style (CMoS) provides several other mechanisms to minimise the amount of text taken up by inline citations, which is important for readability.

Background on Chicago's author-date system

The current (16th) edition of the Chicago Manual of Style (abbrev. CMoS-16) gives extensive documentation on how its author-date citation style is defined and to be applied in chapter 15: the style is one of two supported citation styles, the other being the notes&bibliography approach, where citations are generally given in footnotes using the title of the work, rather than the date. Note that both the author-date and notes&bib citations styles are used in philosophy: Proc. Aristotelian Society, e.g., uses author-date, while Ethics uses notes&bib. The system described in the 16th ed. is a substantial simplification of that in the 15th edition of CMoS: make sure you refer to this edition.


The following citations might appear in the body of a text. I've put an example of using a citation possessively, which can help quite a bit in making citations blend naturally into text.

Strawson (1950)'s critique of the theory of descriptions put forward by Russell (1904) has generated a considerable literature (e.g., Donnellan 1960, 1978; Dummett 1973; Kripke 1977; Ludlow and Neale 1991). Ludlow (2005) provides an overview of this body of work.

Then there should be a references section at the end containing each cited work. I've given examples of works with multiple authors, two works by the same author, citations from a book as well as from journals. Note that titles of books and journals are italicised; titles of articles and book chapters are placed in quotation marks.

  • Donnellan, Keith S. 1966. “Reference and Definite Descriptions.” Philosophical Review 77:281—304.
  • ————————. 1978. “Speaker Reference, Descriptions, and Anaphora.” In P. Cole (ed.), Syntax and Semantics 9: Pragmatics. New York: Academic Press, 47—68.
  • Dummett, Michael A. E. 1973. Frege: Philosophy of Language. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press.
  • Kripke, Saul. 1977. “Speaker Reference and Semantic Reference.” In French, Uehling, and Wettstein (eds.), Contemporary Perspectives in the Philosophy of Language, Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 6—27.
  • Ludlow, Peter, and Stephen Neale. 1991. “Indefinite Descriptions: In Defense of Russell.” Linguistics and Philosophy 14:171—202.
  • Ludlow, Peter. 2005. “Descriptions.” The Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy (Summer 2005 Edition), Edward N. Zalta (ed.). Retrieved from http://plato.stanford.edu/archives/sum2005/entries/descriptions/.
  • Russell, Bertrand. 1905. “On Denoting.” Mind 14:479—493.
  • Strawson, Peter F. 1950. “On Referring.” Mind 59:320—334.

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