When citing, does it have to be obvious from the sentence or placement of the citation what exactly is being cited or why the citation is there? Sometimes I feel like people cite things such that you can only figure out why there is a citation after reading the cited article. Is that ok or should the purpose of a citation be obvious from the text?

E.g. should

In the field of bla {cite bunch of reviews} people do lots of cool stuff.

be instead replaced by something like

In the field of bla people do lots of cool stuff. For recent reviews see {cite bunch of reviews}.

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    I would go for neither nor. "In the field of bla, people do lots of cool stuff, including blub [citation1, citation2], bubble [citation3], bauble [citation4] and other foo [citation 5, 6 and 7]." – skymningen Sep 7 '17 at 12:38
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    I would suggest reading paper in your field to see how people write. – Richard Erickson Sep 7 '17 at 13:06
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    For what it's worth, the first variant seems clearer to me, at least if the citation does what it looks like. Written like that, I get the unequivocal impression that the cited "bunch of reviews" will tell me what the field of bla is about, if I don't already know that. In the second variant, it is not so clear - will the reviews tell me what bla is about? Or are they just there to provide me with a representative sample of reviews in the field of bla? Or does the author always point out the latest few review article on any mentioned field (representative or not), out of principle? – O. R. Mapper Sep 7 '17 at 13:09
  • @skymningen I have a whole section of that afterwards. I plan to write this in my thesis intro and wanted to set the context first. – Wolpertinger Sep 7 '17 at 14:07
  • @O.R.Mapper thanks! I think that would be an acceptable answer even. – Wolpertinger Sep 7 '17 at 14:08

Every paragraph has a purpose. The answer to your question depends on the purpose of your paragraph.

Clarity in academic writing is always good, but you should weigh whether being explicit is clarifying or obscuring the important points. "For recent reviews see {cite bunch of reviews}," may be fine if you want to direct the reader's attention to the existence of those reviews. Perhaps you're doing a metareview, or for some other reason want to track development of the literature.

But the terser version is cleaner if the existence of reviews is tangential to your point. The reader can investigate further if she wishes--hopefully the titles of your cited works make their purpose clear, so she's not digging around to figure out what they're about!--but she can also breeze past the citations to your main point. Extreme concision in citations is widely accepted. I've seen citations to my work (broadly, in interdisciplinary social science) where I was not entirely sure why the authors thought it was relevant!

So what is your paragraph trying to accomplish?

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The example you mentioned seems ok. You are referring the reader to those papers which you mentioned their topics. This is generally acceptable.

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