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I am writing a scientific publication and am wondering if it is correct to cite an exact chapter, page from a book/publication directly in the text, like so:

Brown describes this in \cite[Chapter 6.6]{brown2430}

From my point of view it is perfectly usable to point a reader to the exact place where he/she might find the details about the subject, instead of citing the whole article/book, but this logic has been questioned (by "scientific" people ;) ).

I cannot find any guidelines in the internet. Can you point me in the right direction? (as I write the question I realized it is not as much TEX-related, as content related, but hopefully this is a crowd that should know that)

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closed as off topic by Caramdir, lockstep, Seamus, egreg, Jake Sep 27 '11 at 0:52

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I think this is not a question about latex, but more about the citation convention of your field. In history and other humanities, it is frequent to point to a specific page, or a chapter... directly in the reference. Perhaps less so in other fields. – Martigan Sep 20 '11 at 15:37
this is certainly quite common in mathematics. some recommendations are given in swanson's mathematics into type in the section "bibliographic references in text". think of it this way -- the more specific you are in your citation, the easier it is for the reader to check. – barbara beeton Sep 20 '11 at 16:16
I agree with Martigan. In math, you write the article, figure out which journal you want to submit it to, find out their standards (website or journal) and then clean up your article to their specifications. – DJP Sep 20 '11 at 16:19
If there are guidelines about citations in your thesis by e.g. the department, you must follow those (even if they are silly, there have been some examples at tex.stackexchange...), but when you are free in regard of adding a chapter or page, I (as reader) would very much approve you to give a page or chapter number instead of telling me that it is somewhere in the 2000 pages of that encyclopaedia. You would not write "there is a wrong + instead of - in the source code of the operating system" without giving a file and a line, would you? – Stephen Sep 20 '11 at 18:29
I think it is perfect and should be imposed on any scientific publication. It is much better than citing a 560 pages long book and merely state that the result is in there somewhere. If you can not avoid this, try to blend the chapter 6.6 information into the text. I did a similar move by saying "...in [26] the authors handle the ..... topic elegantly together with ....(something on the same chapter)...." – percusse Sep 20 '11 at 18:39
up vote 1 down vote accepted

Talking in general, a more precise reference to a book or a paper is certainly preferable. In some fields (among which chemistry and mathematics) the convention


is usually followed when such a reference would help the reader in finding the cited text. Some texts such as Swanson's Mathematics into Type address this.

It seems a general opinion that something like

… as observed in Laurel and Hardy (1932).

where the citation refers to a 900 page book is quite vague and unhelpful.

In humanities, the place in the book or paper would frequently be given in a footnote; other fields don't use footnotes.

A good strategy for deciding what to do is to look at some other theses in one's field. Some schools have their traditions and, even if they are silly, they should be followed.

In case citations of that kind are not accepted, one can always try to integrate the information in the text.

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