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I have come across a research paper that is clearly heavily based on a blog post (by a third party, not me or the paper's authors). Same idea, very similar wording, etc.

The paper does not cite the blog post, or even mention it.

What is proper citation practice in this case?

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The short answer is yes, the work should be cited. The easy rule is "cite what you use".

But there are several issues here.

If the blog contains creative or intellectual content, then using it without citation might be plagiarism, in which case a citation would solve that part of the issue: giving proper credit.

However, the content of the blog post could, in theory, be the subject of the research itself. In this case citation is also necessary and it would be extremely sloppy research if citation were missing.

But, beyond that, you might be seeing copyright infringement, even if the words used have little creative or intellectual content. You can only quote or even paraphrase so much before you reach infringement, though that is a judgement call made in courts when the copyright holder complains. Here, citation isn't enough.

So, it might be some combination of plagiarism and copyright infringement. Citation, while probably needed, is only a partial solution to the potential issues.

Note that "creative content" is pretty broad. A novel contains creative content though it may not be intellectual. Copying may not be plagiarism, strictly speaking, since there may be no intent to misappropriate the ideas, though there could be. "Call me Ishmael."

And what is "creative" is also a judgement call.

My best guess about the specific situation, however, would be sloppiness, not intentional plagiarism or infringement. Still not good, of course.

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  • Thanks! The blog post isn't the subject of the paper. Hadn't considered the copyright infringement issue. It reads as though the paper authors have copy-pasted the blog post and then paraphrased every line.
    – Richard
    Feb 21 at 18:21
  • Inexperienced authors who don’t know the rules, perhaps? Or bad actors?
    – Buffy
    Feb 21 at 18:30

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