When writing a paper which applies some known method to a new problem, for completeness we may need to summarize that method, probably as a section on its own.

In the paper where it was first proposed, the method was described in a set of equations. In my case, I need to include some of these equations, because I need to refer to them in the subsequent part of my paper.

Currently I write something like the following:

We apply the X method [citation], which we shall summarize below, to describe ...

and then comes the equations, interspersed with some texts, which are paraphrased from the originals.

How do we give the proper attribution to the paper in which the method was first described, without giving the impression that some of the equations are our own? Is the above sufficient? Including [citation] before every equation seems awkward, since all of these equations are from a single paper.

3 Answers 3


It is generally sufficient to say explicitly that "in this section we will recall the method X from [citation]", and then simply do it. However, you may find it preferable not to quote equations and text from the original paper, but to adopt it according to the style, notation and message of your own manuscript.

  • Yes, I have done according to the second part of your answer. Do you think that my current approach is sufficient then?
    – adipro
    Jun 23, 2014 at 13:28
  • 1
    If you clearly cite the previous work and then recall it in your own words - I believe, this is completely o.k. and appropriate. Jun 23, 2014 at 13:30

I would suggest making it clear, that you also quote the equations, e.g.

We apply the X method [citation], to describe ... The derivations and equations below are cited and summarized from [citation]:

And I would also include the major equations in your paper. Not every reader may have access to your sources, and if the equations are necessary to understand your data/approach they should be provided in your text.

By major equations I mean final expressions but not the steps how they are derived. As author, ask yourself which equations are necessary to understand the methodology and not common lore in your field.


If the equations in your source are numbered, you can use the source's numbering, perhaps with a prefix. For example, if you quote equation (2.15) in the source, you could number it as (X.2.15). Then this prefix will serve to distinguish the quoted equations from your own. If you only quote a few equations, you could also follow them with something like "these equations appear as (2.15) and (2.19) in [citation]".

  • 2
    In a long paper, this would have the disadvantage of making it difficult to find an equation given its number. Jun 23, 2014 at 13:39
  • This is true, but one could give the summary of the X paper its own section, which would alleviate the problem somewhat. If the paper is very long, one could also give the page number to help navigation. Jun 23, 2014 at 13:42

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