Here's a simplified version of a bibliographic problem I'm facing.

A working paper estimated that Public Policy X caused Social Indicator Y to increase by 25%—practically significant, but not statistically significant at p < .05. So the paper's authors, as they told me by e-mail, omitted the discussion of Indicator Y when the paper was published in a journal.

Other studies of Policy X have found effects of 20%–40% on Indicator Y, so I'd like to cite the 25% estimate to corroborate these other studies. I'm writing for semi-popular consumption, so I'd like to minimize bibliographic clutter in the main text without confusing readers who can't find Indicator Y in the published paper. (The working and published papers have identical titles. The working paper is paywalled on every website that hosts it, and the published paper is unpaywalled on the website of one of its authors, so readers may find the published paper if they chase a citation to the working paper and aren't told that the two differ.)

What's the best solution? My current idea is this, but if there's a standard method, I'd prefer that. My publisher generally follows Chicago format.

In main text:

Kent and Parker found that Policy X increased Indicator Y by approximately 25%.1 Though not statistically significant,2 this estimate corroborates independent studies' estimates, such as [etc.]

In footnotes:

1 Clark Kent and Peter Parker. "Various Effects of Policy X." NBER Working Paper No. 90210, June 2016. Discussion of Indicator Y is absent from the version ultimately published: Clark Kent and Peter Parker. "Various Effects of Policy X." Los Angeles Journal of Sociology 16, no. 1 (2017): 42–50.

2 Peter Parker, e-mail message to author, October 31, 2017.

  • If it is non-trivial to find the working paper, then include a URL to it.
    – user2768
    Commented Nov 30, 2017 at 9:19
  • To clarify: The working paper is in the NBER Working Papers database, which is all posted online behind a paywall, and several search engines turn up the paywalled NBER copy as the first result search for the paper's name. The final paper is posted on the website of one of the authors, unpaywalled, so anyone without an NBER subscription will probably find that one instead. I'll clarify in the question itself. Commented Nov 30, 2017 at 15:10
  • If the authors hold an unencumbered copyright to the working paper, you might request that they post the working paper on an unwalled webpage and/or grant you permission to post a mirror on an unwalled webpage. Commented Nov 30, 2017 at 17:38

1 Answer 1


This is a rare situation, because “interesting enough to cite” and “interesting enough to include in the final draft” tend to be highly correlated. Therefore I wouldn’t expect there to be a “standard” way to do this.

However, there are standard ways to cite working papers. For Chicago style, it’s this:

Author. Year. “Title of Paper.” Title of Series. Sponsoring Organization, Month Day.

Add URL at the end if available online.

Deal, Ashley. 2009. “Collaboration Tools.” Teaching with Technology Whitepaper. Eberly Center for Teaching Excellence and Educational Innovation, Carnegie Mellon University, January 23. http://www.cmu.edu/teaching/technology/whitepapers/CollaborationTools_Jan09.pdf.

Source: CMOS 14.228, as quoted here.

I would switch the first part of your citation to match this format. The additional commentary that the result was excluded from the final paper is, in my mind, extremely important to include. I would do exactly what you’ve done (after correcting the second citation to Chicago style as well).

  • Yeah, just cite the working paper. Not unusual in economics.
    – Dawn
    Commented Nov 30, 2017 at 18:41

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