I want to write a blog post which builds upon an author's paper.

He uses a formal notation and academic language for describing his findings, I want to rewrite the author's examples in simple and more popular programming languages, and use a more casual language to explain the same concepts. I don't know if this is a relevant detail, but this is also not the only goal of the blog post. It covers other related subjects as well.

As someone outside academia, I wonder if this is considered OK and how can I properly credit the author.

Also, is using a standard citation format and clearly indicating the source of these ideas enough?

4 Answers 4


You have two issues to deal with. If you properly cite and attribute the ideas to the original author, you avoid plagiarism issues. If you don't copy too much, but properly quote, from the paper then you avoid copyright issues.

But, ideas are free to use and to adapt. Simplifying what you find in a paper is a good thing to do.

One doesn't obtain ownership of ideas by writing a paper.

I therefore see no ethical issue at all with what you suggest.


As an example, you may be interested in the morning paper, which does exactly that daily for one paper in systems / software engineering / programming languages / AI. Notably, from the entire setup it is very clear that the author of the blog is not the one who originally did the research. The original paper and authors are very clearly named, right at the top of each entry. The blog uses direct quotations fairly freely, but always in a distinct style that makes it obvious which quotes come directly from the paper, and what is the blog author's own commentary.

Even if your setup is a bit different, I think you can learn a lot by incorporating similar principles:

  • Put a reference to the original authors and paper very prominently. I would be more explicit that a standard paper-style reference or link - this can get overlooked all too easily by a quick reader on the web.
  • Visually distinguish what comes from the original authors from your own text and thoughts.
  • Ideally, I would try to pack everything that you adapted from the original paper in subsection(s) of their own, with a big disclaimer at the top.
  • Contrary, if you extend the paper, also make sure that it is clear when specific thoughts, arguments, or extensions are your own work. You don't want to be accused of putting words into the original authors mouth.

I want to write a blog post which builds upon an author's paper...I want to rewrite the author's examples in simple and more popular programming languages, and use a more casual language...

Such activities are certainly okay and should be encouraged, you just need to properly attribute ideas to the author, which you can do with a standard citation.

You might like to consider co-authoring the blog post with the author, possibly publishing a technical report, which is perhaps more likely to be used by the wider research community.


To some extent I have taken the same approach with two articles I wrote more or less recently: https://ulvgard.se

I try to make it clear that I only repeat results from the paper and add my own interpretation where I feel the paper could be more elaborate. This is of course different for you since you want to add on top of existing work. Take a look and see if there are some elements of my style that you want to use.

Working with papers this way is a really nice way to internalize the content and forces you to process all the tricky details where the paper is less clear yourself.

Best of luck!

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