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In the following examples, should the citation be separated by ; or ,?

Simplistically, the goal of the investor is to maximise return (subject to risk constraints; XYZ, 2011).

or

Simplistically, the goal of the investor is to maximise return (subject to risk constraints, XYZ, 2011).

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  • 4
    Not an answer to the question, but very often you can avoid putting expressions inside parentheses altogether, which I would usually prefer. Commented Sep 25, 2022 at 7:56
  • Stylistic issues such as this are subject to local culture. Find out how people do this in the place you hope to publish. There may be an official style guide. Or you must check past documents published there.
    – BillOnne
    Commented Sep 25, 2022 at 19:25
  • Thanks both for your comments. I think the second suggestion of the accepted answer is what I'm trying to say.
    – stevew
    Commented Sep 25, 2022 at 23:13

1 Answer 1

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In that form, without reading the cited document, I cannot clearly understand if the citation refers to the parenthetical part, to the main one or both.

I'd thus rephrase the sentence, depending on the goal of the citation. If the citation refers to the main part, I'd write

Simplistically, the goal of the investor is to maximise return (XYZ, 2011), subject to risk constraints.

If the citation refers to both parts, I'd write

Simplistically, taking into account risk constraints, the goal of the investor is to maximise return (XYZ, 2011).

If the citation refers to the parenthetical part, I'd write

Simplistically, the goal of the investor is to maximise return (subject to risk constraints, see XYZ, 2011).

or

Simplistically, the goal of the investor is to maximise return, subject to risk constraints (XYZ, 2011).

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  • Thanks. I think your second suggestion is the most accurate. I noticed that even your third suggestion doesn't have a ;, so maybe it's not common practice to use semicolons.
    – stevew
    Commented Sep 25, 2022 at 23:12

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