Suppose person A has a research project where they need to find a few articles on a particular topic, and write a review of these papers.

Being busy with other coursework, and feeling overwhelmed by the task of searching papers, person A decides to ask person B for help to find a list of articles on the topic. Person B is not a student in the course, but is willing to help person A.

Person A then reads the articles B found and writes their paper on their own.

Has there been plagiarism or other ethical violation committed?

EDIT: An additional concern is whether person A needs to credit person B's work. The goal of the paper would be to develop understanding of the field that the course is about, not specifically train for literature search. The submission will be graded.

  • Will it result in a publication or a graded submission?
    – koalo
    Commented Feb 7, 2018 at 6:34
  • While it's not exactly the same question, the answer to your question is fully addressed in answers to a similar question: Is it ethical to do paid literature searches of research journals for other students? academia.stackexchange.com/q/103056/20418
    – Tripartio
    Commented Feb 7, 2018 at 8:53

1 Answer 1


Regardless of the method used in retrieving related articles, the decision to accept the sources and use the information provided in the articles is yours. There is no violation or problem that can come of it, as it is no different than searching for articles online. Is there any other information you are withholding that could make you worried about this practice enough to warrant your asking the question?

  • 1
    A concern would be whether the student needs to credit person B as having done the initial search work. In addition, the course is not on literature search per-se, but rather on the topic. The goal of the paper is for the student to get more understanding of the field.
    – Tob Ernack
    Commented Feb 7, 2018 at 13:35
  • Getting a list of sources from another person is no different than finding sources using search engines or searching scholarly article databases. Do you credit Google for supplying a list of scholarly articles or a database of articles from which you found related material? No credit should be necessary but remember doing things yourself or without help is a more beneficial experience. Commented Feb 7, 2018 at 23:40
  • Sorry for the downvote, that was not me. I upvoted.
    – Tob Ernack
    Commented Feb 8, 2018 at 0:03
  • No problem just trying to help out. Commented Feb 8, 2018 at 2:02

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