Let's say, I am writing a paper. I am reading paper A that cites results in Paper/Book B. I do not have access to Paper/Book B.

In the list of references, do I include only A? A and B?

  • 4
    University libraries are pretty good at allowing you to borrow not only from their own collection but also from other univeristy libraries as well (at nominal cost). so I would start by asking at your local library about those possibilties. Dec 2 '14 at 22:01
  • What is so special about paper B that you consider citing it? If you cite every paper cited by a paper you cite, you probably end up citing millions of papers.
    – Wrzlprmft
    Dec 2 '14 at 22:13
  • May I suggest subjects.library.manchester.ac.uk/referencing as a source of detailed guidance for several referencing styles. Note however this is adapted for Manchester styling in some cases.
    – Gareth
    Dec 2 '14 at 23:21
  • This might help: apastyle.org/learn/faqs/cite-another-source.aspx Dec 3 '14 at 1:17
  • 1
    "use results from a source I don't have access to" is paradoxical. You can't use something you don't have access to. If you only read A, cite only A.
    – Szabolcs
    Dec 3 '14 at 1:37

Be honest. You do not gain anything by pretending knowledge you have not, nor it helps the reader.

Write "According to A, in B it is shown that" or some variation on it. If you have made a good-faith effort to obtain a copy of B (that includes interlibrary loan), but had undue difficulty in doing so, you might want to mention it --- "We were unable to find a copy of B".


You should add both. I assume you, in your text, refer to B as referred to by A in some way. The point is that everyone should be able to trace your information and knowing B is a book and is referenced by A, from which article you took the information.

That said, I would like to add a warning against doing this, it should only be done as a last resort. The problem of using a reference in a reference is that you have not actually seen the original work and you are therefore trusting that A, in this case, have cited B correctly. Many cases exist where misconceptions have been propagated by trusting the judgement of others and not checking the original source.

  • 2
    +1 for the warning part. In the worst case, you could be accused of academic misconduct. Try very hard to put your hands on the original material. Librarians are wonderful at making such things happen. If you absolutely can't, consider writing, "According to Smith (1998) A.B. Charles (1980) reported that..."
    – Bob Brown
    Dec 2 '14 at 23:09

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.