Q: Can I cite a paper which is open to public view as an author manuscript?

Detailed Question -

I am going to cite a paper which is open to public as an “author manuscript.” But its pages are not identical with the formal published paper. Can I cite this author manuscript?

If I cite it, how should I mention it in the reference list?

1 Answer to this question

I am not sure what is meant by "author manuscript." It may be an accepted manuscript or one of the earlier versions of the manuscript that was posted in a preprint server. Most journals allow citation of preprints, but you must remember that a preprint is not peer-reviewed and therefore lacks the credibility that a journal publication has. If the paper has already been published in a journal, it would be better to cite the published source rather than an earlier version of the manuscript. 

If, however, you are really keen on citing the preprint, you should do so in a specific format. The National Institutes of Health (NIH) recommends mentioning the DOI and the the product type (whether it is an accepted manuscript or preprint) in the citation. Also list any information about the document version (e.g. the most recent date modified) and the date when you last accessed it. However, once again, I would not recommend citing this version when a final peer-reviewed version of the work is available as a journal publication.

Related reading:

What documentation do I need to provide if I cite unpublished work?