I am currently writing a literature review for my bachelor thesis and I am not sure if what I am currently doing is acceptable.

My approach right now is to look at about 10 different literature reviews(from different papers) regarding the same topic and take one or two sentences or sometimes a paragraph from each of the literature reviews and put it in my thesis. Afterward, I synthesize the sentences I've collected from other authors' literature reviews and form a new paragraph. Lastly, I paraphrase the new paragraph and cites the original contributors behind the sentences.

Is this considered plagiarism?

  • 1
    It might, depending on how much you’ve paraphrased.
    – Spark
    Commented Jul 24, 2019 at 6:25
  • 6
    If you have to ask.... and besides, this sounds like a terrible way to do a literature review. If you're only taking a sentence or two from each paper you're going to have an uneven and confusing treatment of the topics. Start with a proper outline of what you think the key points that need to be covered are, then cite the papers that support those. This will end up with much better results than picking and choosing bits of different papers and changing the wording so you have plausible deniability if you're accused of plagiarism.
    – user2699
    Commented Jul 24, 2019 at 15:57

3 Answers 3


Though it is a subtle difference, it seems that you might be rewriting sentences in your own words rather than paraphrasing authors’ ideas. It is difficult to assess your work without specific examples, but it sounds like it is bordering on plagiarism. Others may or not consider this plagiarism, but either way it is bad practice.

Since it is certainly easier to accidentally plagiarize using your method, I recommend taking notes on the pieces you are reading (rather than taking direct quotes/sentences) and paraphrasing your own work. Not only will this lead to a greater understanding and coherence of writing, it will also negate (most) plagiarism concerns.

And as always, cite, cite, cite.

  • Thank you for the answer. I am not sure if this is going to make any difference, but what If my method is only used for the definition of terms ?
    – Huan Ying
    Commented Jul 24, 2019 at 11:00
  • 2
    For definitions of terms, you should always use direct quotations with quotation marks plus citation. Then there is no issue of paraphrasing or plagiarism.
    – Tripartio
    Commented Jul 25, 2019 at 3:10

You should take the list of references from those literature reviews you found, read those papers / articles / sources then write your own review that is up to date and is "tuned" to your work.

This means you won't have to paraphrase or plagiarize anybody else.

  • @Tripartio worked for me when I did mine, books (even books on interlibrary loans), articles, papers - many papers by Judge, Ricardo (famous names in the field), so how is it not practical?
    – Solar Mike
    Commented Jul 25, 2019 at 5:58
  • I'm sorry; I misunderstood your answer. I have deleted my comment.
    – Tripartio
    Commented Jul 25, 2019 at 17:19

No. By all means look at other authors' literature reviews to check which literature YOU YOURSELF need to review, but you absolutely have to review it yourself.

Other authors will not necessarily be focussing on the exact issues that you are focussing on, so what they say may bear no relation to your own specific interest.

A literature review is not just something that boring old professors insist, for some strange reason, on demanding of students. It is how you find out about the subject that you wish to research. You don't want to copy anybody else's work, but you do need to know what might be a good starting point for your own work.

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