I found an interesting figure in a review which has no reference (I assumed that it belongs to the review author if I am wrong correct me), can I paraphrase the caption or use the figure information and paraphrase it (deal with it as any original data from any article review?). Additionally, what are the elements in the review paper that belong to the review author? Is it just the conclusion and the non referenced figures?

  • What do you mean by 'review'? Do you mean a paper published in a journal and that paper is a review paper? Or do you mean something like a book review, or a website comment on something?
    – JenB
    Jul 12, 2019 at 9:50
  • sorry , i mean review article published in a scientific journal
    – Rain Man
    Jul 12, 2019 at 14:52

2 Answers 2


You have to distinguish between 2 things here:

  1. Academic: If you cite correctly using a sentence like "Adapted from Smith et al 2015" you can re-use graphics.
  2. Legal (copyright): You will have to check the journal's policy if you are allowed to re-use material from them. In most open access journals you can do this unlimited. For some other journals you might need the explicit permission to re-use a figure. This is the usually phrased as something like this "Reprinted with the kind permission of XYZ".

You need to address both points.

  • 1
    For certain journals, there would be a fee to re-use their figure in your own publication.
    – GEdgar
    Jul 12, 2019 at 13:49

It's hard to tell without the exact context, but in all likelihood "yes". Two issues to consider are (1) copyright/plagiarism and (2) accuracy.

  1. Don't make an exact copy of the figure or the caption. Reword it and convert it to your intent somehow. Also, cite the review paper as the source.

  2. I get a sniff of concern that the curve may be made up ("cartoon") or the like since it is not well referenced or discussed. This is not the end of the world, but just consider the context to see how much this is a real concern. Also, how you will use it (e.g. to make a general point or to do detailed calculations from). You can also cover yourself a bit by actually naming the review author, so it is clear that it is "Smith's" view, not yours.

  • Thanks for the kind reply , i need just the caption , so ( as i understand) i can rephrase it and add the reference look like the same action with any other results statement i need to cite right? and if the figure was without caption , can I describe it with my own words and cite it ?.. will that be ok ??
    – Rain Man
    Jul 12, 2019 at 21:39
  • 1
    Yeah. Go ahead. On to the next thing.
    – guest
    Jul 12, 2019 at 22:08
  • Thanks a lot Sir
    – Rain Man
    Jul 13, 2019 at 15:13

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