I know that you can distinguish two ways of referencing scientific work in the Harvard (or author-year) citation style:

  1. You cite the idea or work in general:

    "Recently, a new approach for SOME STUFF was demonstrated for the first time (Author, year)."

  2. You cite the author:

    "Recently, Author (year) demonstrated SOME STUFF for the first time."

However, what is the correct way, if you want to state that something was mentioned in a certain work?

"...as explained in Author (year)..." or "...as explained in (Author, year)..."?

My personal opinion would be the second option, because the idea is not located "in" the author, but "in" the work he published. But in our group opinions differ strongly on this one. Can anyone provide a reliable and authoritative resource?

  • 1
    I think the problem is "in". If you say "by" then the first option make sense. You read something "in" a paper but forget it is written "by" someone Jan 30, 2015 at 14:17
  • For sure the problem is "in". But the question is: If I want to say that a certain thought was published "in" a certain work - how do I do it?
    – Michael
    Feb 2, 2015 at 12:49

2 Answers 2


In the second option you suggest, the sentence is not complete. If you would leave out the part between (), the sentence would not make any sense. You should, as also @Peter Jansson suggests, write sth. along the lines of "As author (2013) explained, ..."


A useful reference is http://www.staffs.ac.uk/assets/harvard_quick_guide_tcm44-47797.pdf which shows the use of both styles. It suggests that a reference to the body of work is followed by (Jones, 2015) while an active description:

Jones (2015) argues the opposite

Has the form author (date)

This makes sense, intuitively. And the your second option becomes the preferred on since it refers to the body. But as others pointed out, perhaps a slightly different turn of phrase would make the problem go away more naturally.

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