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GEN BUS 360: Workplace Writing and Communication (Spring 2022)

Citations and Conveying Credibility

In-text Citations and Your Credibility as a Writer and Researcher

References to sources in the text of your document show your work as a researcher. In order to enhance your own credibility as a researcher and writer, use sources that will be obviously credible, such as fact-checked articles from The New York Times or the The Wall Street Journal. Also, use field-specific sources that are clearly relevant to your topic, such as Pet Boarding and Daycare Magazine, though for some audiences you may have to justify their credibility (in this example you could explain that this is the only trade publication for this industry).


As a general rule, lead with the name of the publication for the first citation from a source. This information is usually more meaningful to your reader, which will quickly establish credibility.


In addition, it’s also fine to research the author, and, if relevant, state their credentials. For example, an opinion piece by someone named Janet Morrison isn’t instantly credible, even if it appears in a major newspaper. However, if you add that Morrison has 20 years of relevant experience in epidemiology and virology research at Harvard, as well as a Ph.D. in epidemiology and virology from the University of Michigan, her opinion piece on wearing masks during a pandemic becomes a lot more credible.


First References vs. Subsequent References

Always provide detailed information about the source the first time you use it. Keep subsequent in-text citations brief.  For examples, see Citations, Credibility, and Using a Source Multiple Times.


First Use of Reference: The first time you use a source in a document, establish its credibility and/or relevance to your point, if it won’t be self-evident to readers.


Subsequent References: Once you’ve established your source’s credibility, be as efficient as possible with citation and attribution.

Content Credit

Content on this page was created by the Business Communication team at the Wisconsin School of Business.