So I am writing my master's thesis, and am reading a lot of papers. I usually do a lot of 'backtracking' (meaning, read one paper, then look at who they cited and go read those papers).
Doing this, I have found that a lot of authors straight-up copy words and sentences from some of the papers they cite. I don't mean a full paragraph or anything of that sorts, it's almost never more than a sentence, but it does happen a lot.
This is particularly annoying when I read a sentence in one paper and think hmm, that isn't entirely clear and could be expanded upon further, and then I track down the similar concept in another paper to see if there's more info there, but I then find the exact same sentence written there, with no further context provided.
For example, currently I am reading a paper which states
The alternating coefficients of the method may mean that in practice, the theorem does not hold.
I'm not quite sure what they mean by this (why are the coefficients alternating? And why does that impact the validity of the theorem?? Does the theorem not take into account the alternating coefficients???), so I look at a paper they cite that talked about this theorem a bit more, and that paper has the exact same sentence (with no further context).
This makes me think that not only was
- the sentence (in the non-original paper) copied straight from the original paper without using quotation marks
but also that
- the author of the non-original paper doesn't actually fully understand the meaning of that sentence (just like I don't), and hence, since they don't understand it, they can't write it in their own words, and hence just copied it verbatim.
Am I reading too much into things, or is this behavior common, and if so, what is the proper etiquette concerning what this is acceptable or not?