I am citing papers in Statement of Purpose.

I am only using - "first author et al". instead of the recommend cite as per the paper's norms.

Would that be okay or should I just use the normal reference which goes into writing papers?

  • recommend[ed] cite as per the paper's norms: Where is that recommended?
    – user2768
    Feb 16, 2021 at 8:42
  • Normally while citing a paper (as per IEEE conference) 6 names should be mentioned before using "et al." or all the equal contributors. In that sense!
    – Academic
    Feb 17, 2021 at 5:32
  • You'll likely find that rules from different venues conflict. E.g., I've seen et al. for just three authors.
    – user2768
    Feb 17, 2021 at 8:06
  • That's true, it's quite rarely less than 3 in my field hence I asked the question!
    – Academic
    Feb 17, 2021 at 18:38

1 Answer 1


If your Statement of Purpose is self-contained (in particular, it includes a list of references), you're free to pick your own citation format. Otherwise, you need to pick a format that allows the reader to identify the work you're citing. Using first author et al. probably doesn't help, because that author will likely have written many papers, moreover, their name is not likely unique. Using

author et al. (venue, year)

should suffice.

  • Thank you! This was helpful!
    – Academic
    Feb 16, 2021 at 8:56

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