So in my mathematics master's thesis I am mainly following a certain paper, trying to understand it and present it's results in my own way. Now for a few chapters in my thesis I am basing them off of chapters in the paper and I'm unsure on how and what I need to cite. I generally start of these chapters saying something like "this chapter looks at ...blah blah blah....following (cite source)". Also for remarks and analysis I've taken from the paper I also cite those. But what about Propositions or proofs I've taken from the paper? (Stuff which is not'common knowledge').

As these are generally interspersed throughout the chapter, writing things like "this result taken from (cite source)... nearby each of the results seems clumsy and breaks the flow of my writing, so I would prefer not to do something like this if it is necessary to cite each of them.

2 Answers 2


Including propositions from elsewhere with just a generic remark at the start of the chapter is risky, and I would strongly advise against it.

In particular when it comes to proofs this makes it very difficult to see what is going on: Are you providing your own proofs for statements deemed to be "obvious" in the paper? Are you expanding a proof from the source? Are you merely paraphrasing?

For propositions, a rather elegant way that does not impact the writing flow would be:

\begin{proposition}[\cite[Proposition XX]{source}]



For proofs, you can just put a sentence outlining the extent of your contribution at the start, where it also does not break the flow.

  • Does the same apply for Propositions out of a textbook (which could be assumed as common knowledge)?
    – Fromage
    Commented Jun 7, 2018 at 12:40
  • If it is from the text book, add something like "e.g.~" in front of the citation to make clear that you are not citing the one original source (or, if the textbook gives the citation, use the original source). If you are using something extremely well known, giving a reference is not needed (Zorn's Lemma, Fundamental theorem of analysis, etc)
    – Arno
    Commented Jun 7, 2018 at 12:43

As long as you make it clear where your information comes from everything is fine. Just take care not to quote any text literally, except of course equations or important definitions.

  • I mean it's clear to me because I wrote it and know all the sources, but I don't know if the markers will see it the same way. Surely there is just a rule about this sort of stuff?
    – Fromage
    Commented Jun 7, 2018 at 11:09
  • The main part of my answer is the word "clear". If you make it clear what the source is, everything is fine. If it is unclear at some points, add a reference. You don't want to leave the markers guessing.
    – Louic
    Commented Jun 7, 2018 at 11:20
  • And my comment says that I don't know what clear means in this context...do you perhaps have examples as to what you mean?
    – Fromage
    Commented Jun 7, 2018 at 11:33
  • You are overthinking it. Cite where needed to make it unambigiously clear where your information comes from. We cannot write your thesis for you.
    – Louic
    Commented Jun 7, 2018 at 12:17

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