I was wondering whether it is possible to cite information from the abstract part of another scientific paper.

Let's say that you read something interesting in the abstract of a scientific paper and that you want to cite that information.

Is it normal to use that specific research paper as a reference source?

The question arises because normally the abstracts of scientific papers don't contain references, but still the abstract would reflect what the authors of that paper conclude/claim.


To further ellaborate:

My question is relating to scientific papers in general.

I know that the abstract normally does not contain any citations like: [1].

The abstract is like a summary of the scientific paper.

When I quote or cite from the abstract of a certain scientific paper, I would be citing as if that scientific paper is the source.

As a result if assuming that the abstract of a scientific paper contains the conclusions of authors that wrote the abstract. Even though these authors partly or not partly based those conclusions on external sources. So my question is whether that specific abstract/conclusion would be a valid source to cite from, making the scientific paper containing the abstract the source of citation.

  • When you write "normally the abstracts of scientific papers don't contain references," you seem to be asking whether you can include a citation in an abstract. (You can include the authors names, possibly coupled with year and venue, in the abstract, but you shouldn't use a citation of the form [X], because the abstract might appear independently of the bibliography, which renders [X] useless.) On the other hand, the rest of the question seems to be about citing material in the abstract of another paper. (You could cite a direct quote.)
    – user2768
    Jan 18, 2018 at 17:08
  • 2
    Normally, the abstract is only a summary of what the paper presents in more depth, so why not find the related claim in the paper instead? Jan 18, 2018 at 17:21
  • 1
    Could you post a link to the paper you are talking about, or maybe the abstract text itself? Since you do not disclose what information you want to use and you don’t explain why you are limited to the abstract, it’s a lot of quests work and hard to answer
    – rul30
    Jan 18, 2018 at 18:53
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    It isn't true that "the abstract of a scientific paper contains the conclusions of authors that wrote the abstract." Authors may refer to the ideas of others in an abstract.
    – user2768
    Jan 19, 2018 at 8:43

2 Answers 2


If you go through the actual article, you should be able to disentangle the authors' sources from their original work. Then you would know whether what they say in the abstract is their own and therefore attributable to them.

But why would you cite the abstract instead of the article itself?

Because it seems to say something the article does not? Double-check, but then it probably originates from another author.

Because it contains a particular wording that the article does not? Then either paraphrase as you like (and still cite) or verify that the wording can be traced to their own work (or that you trace and cite the originator).

Because you can't get access to more than the abstract without a different subscription? I would hesitate to cite in that scenario.


As a general rule, I would advise against it. It can be tricky to separate what constitutes original work of the authors and what they themselves cite from elsewhere.

  • 5
    I am having a difficult time understanding your meaning or justification. Perhaps you can expand your answer a bit?
    – jakebeal
    Jan 18, 2018 at 17:27

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