I will be doing a presentation on fracking in the United States, and in the current president's book, "Crippled America", he states his administration plans to endorse fracking within the United States for the sole purpose of "creating more jobs." Would citing a political book be considered credible?

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    Credible for what purpose? Outlining policy positions and rationale, yes. Science, probably not. Apr 18, 2017 at 17:11
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    Yes, if you say "In his 2015 book, Trump announced that he will support fracking for the purpose of creating jobs", this would be a great citation for that. If you say "Trump supports fracking for the purpose of creating jobs", it's an OK citation, but maybe his position has since changed. If you say "fracking creates jobs", it's a terrible citation, since there's no reason to consider Trump an authoritative source (I'd bet he knows less about fracking than you do at this point). Apr 18, 2017 at 17:43

2 Answers 2


I could be misinterpreting your question, but I believe you are running into a difference in the popular (non-academic/scientific) definition of what a citation is for, the journalistic/communicative use of citation, and the scholarly purpose of citation.

In the popular idea of citation, you are citing something to add credibility or "proof" to your argument. For instance, "a medical publication from researchers at Harvard said eating tomatoes increases cancer risk [citation here], so you should stop eating tomatoes." You are citing to be persuasive, by borrowing legitimacy and authority from those that have it and seeking to use it to support your agenda.

The journalistic use of citation, in theory, is to communicate the source of some statement or argument that you are reporting. Done right, this allows people you are communicating with to more easily locate the relevant materials they can investigate further on their own, if they are so interested, as well as to help ensure that the journalist is being honest by making it easy to check their work.

The scholarly purpose of citation is to indicate the source of ideas and work that is not your own, to make it distinct from your own contributions. This exposes your assumptions, directs researchers to closely related works, and can be used to indicate whether what you are doing is normal (by showing other researchers who've done or found the same thing), or if you need to justify your comparatively unusual practice or findings. It is also used to externalize support - so if you want to use a method because some other researcher's work said that method was useful for the problem you are working on, you just cite that research to support your use of the method. This effectively "includes" their work into yours, without the need for reproduction (copy-paste).

So with that said, let's take your example from a scholarly perspective.

If you make the statement that a US president supports fracking, especially for the purpose of job creation, you should cite why you think that is so - and citing their own book would certainly be a good way of supporting such an assertion. In indicates the source of data from which you draw your assertion.

On the other hand, lets say you want to state that fracking will create more jobs in the United States. While you could certainly cite a political/popular book, the response to that from an academic perspective is simple: the book you cited is just another persons unsupported opinion, and does not indicate scientific or otherwise scholarly support for your statement. The citation does not include research, novel methods, an analysis of an existing data-set nor the collection of new data. In short, it does not support your statement in a scholarly way, and would further make a listener/reader wonder if you know what you are doing at all.

So in the end, what you should cite, and how you should cite it, will depend on what the role of your presentation is and the nature of the argument you are making. If you are quoting something, cite the source of the quote. If you state that so-and-so supports a certain policy, cite the source that establishes that that person indeed does support that certain policy.


Whether this is "credible" evidence depends on what you're trying to establish: If your goal is merely to establish the stated rationale for the policy, then a first-hand statement of the rationale from the President is a perfectly good source. A book written (kinda) by the President is about as credible a source as you can get to show evidence of his own stated views and beliefs. Of course, you should bear in mind that the broader government administration consists of other people and therefore has a degree of heterogeneity of beliefs, and others in his administration might push the policy for other reasons. Whether the book is a "credible source" depends on what you want to establish.

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