How would I credit an author's particular article who is not cited in my text but who has influenced my work? I am not referring to any kind of general mentorship or any personal connection. According to the Chicago manual current online edition in chapter 15:

"Each entry in the reference list must correspond to a work cited in the text."

The problem is I am not quoting or paraphrasing this author's ideas rather they stand as a ground of influence on my approach. It seems strange that someone who has influenced my work would not be included in the reference list, meanwhile if I quote one sentence or one word of someone else they end up in the reference list. This seems lopsided to me, even unjust.

I could consider explicitly adding a paragraph about the author's article in question and thereby open up the requirement to include them in my reference list but what if I feel that approach breaks the flow of my article? Sometimes we want ideas to be under the radar as opposed to in the reader's face. I am open to any ideas, or possibly the Chicago style has an answer for this.

  • 3
    You can add an in-text citation anywhere the cited work is relevant. It is not limited to quotes and paraphrases. – Anonymous Physicist Jan 16 at 4:33

This question hinges on the relevancy of citing this additional source. Whether or not it is appropriate to cite the work depends on the scope of its influence on your work.

For example, if you use a methodology or structure in your paper that is unique to a certain work, you should cite this. As per Chicago guidelines, you would cite the author and year without a specific page number (unless relevant sections are distinct).

However, if you write a humanities paper on new age magic because you were inspired by Harry Potter, this is not appropriate. Even if you otherwise would not have conducted your research without having read Harry Potter, it is completely irrelevant to the paper.

It is tempting to recount the path you take researching a subject when you are writing about it, however this is rarely relevant to your thesis. Cite work when credit is due, otherwise leave it out or use a formal acknowledgement.


Citing isn't limited to quoting. What that styleguide says is that work should never be appear in the references first. If it did, it would be completely unclear to the reader why that reference is there.

But something like:

We proceed to argue that flumms are not necessarily evil, with an argument somewhat analogous to how Smith established the vegetable nature of oliphants in [2].

is a perfectly reasonable way to mention in your text HOW the inspiration looks like.


In the acknowledgements section of your paper, you could say:

The authors would like to thank Bloggs and Jones (1989) for inspiring this line of research.

Alternatively, if you're using LaTeX+BibTeX, you can make it somebody else's problem: put in a reference with \nocite{}, and if the publishers don't like it, they have the option of designing their "Chicago" BibTeX style file in such a way that \nocites don't produce any entry in the reference list.

  • I think the "acknowledgement" route is the higher of the two roads here. – ObscureOwl Jan 17 at 13:58

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