I'm writing my master thesis. I need to quote a cited quote from another paper. So the scenario is that I'm reading a paper and this paper has a quote which is cited from another paper. Now I want to quote this quote, how should I cite this?

Is it correct to just write the text of the quote and then cite the paper I'm reading? Or should I cite the original paper? The thing is that if I cite the original paper then I will be considered that I read that paper, however i don't want to read that paper. So what is the correct thing to do here?

  • 2
    I'm interested on why you "don't want to read that paper". Is it due to some personal conflicts with the author of original paper?
    – justhalf
    Dec 10, 2014 at 6:23
  • @justhalf because it is only that quote in that paper that is of interest/value for me. It is beyond the scope of my thesis!
    – Jack Twain
    Dec 10, 2014 at 10:33
  • I see. However I fail to see how "beyond the scope of my thesis" can translate to "i don't want to read that paper" and describing it as "very difficult approach", unless you are really limited in time. But then again if the original paper is available to you, you can always skim through it (which is the first step in reading papers, by the way) and find the context of the quote quickly.
    – justhalf
    Dec 10, 2014 at 11:00
  • (to be pendantic, you're only wanting to quote a quote, not to quote a quoted quote, which would happen if someone wanted to quote the quote that you quoted. That is, the first occurrence of the phrase is not in itself a quote)
    – Moriarty
    Dec 10, 2014 at 14:14

2 Answers 2


Unless it is the fact that paper A quotes paper B that you intend to highlight in your thesis and not the content of the quote from paper B itself, you need to read paper B. If you reproduce the quote by itself, you should cite the original. If you need to refer to paper A's reference to B, then you need to cite both.

  • :( this is a very difficult approach
    – Jack Twain
    Dec 9, 2014 at 21:20
  • I think the solution is to try to explain the idea of the quote then rather than copying its text
    – Jack Twain
    Dec 9, 2014 at 21:21
  • 13
    You need to come to grips with the literature you are using. There is no choice. There are countless stories about "facts" being improperly propagated due to reliance on a tertiary source to have gotten the gist of the primary source correct.
    – Bill Barth
    Dec 9, 2014 at 21:58
  • 4
    @JackTwain "this is a very difficult approach" Is it? Assuming you have access to the original paper you could verify the quote and relevant context in less time that it took you to post your question. Properly reviewing and citing the literature is a minimum requirement for any thesis. Dec 10, 2014 at 2:27
  • 7
    @Jack Twain: you don't need to read and understand an entire paper to quote from it. You do need to read enough to make sure that you are interpreting the quote in the right way. This is simply part of doing research: you will end up looking at many resources that are only slightly related to your work. Dec 10, 2014 at 11:29

There is a potentially serious problem with taking quotes or interpretations of other's work from an intermediate source. You have no control over the correctness of what you are quoting or referencing. There are many examples where errors propagate through scientific literature just because someone actually did not check the original source. This does not mean that everything is wrong or that most people are careless but it is your responsibility to check the information you use. You therefore need to make a serious effort to locate the original before you resort to quoting a quote made by someone else or citing a citation in another publication.

In the event you have to resort to using an indirect source you should clearly state that the quote is not from the original. You can do this by adding, for example, "stated by Y (yyyy) as quoted by X (yyyy)" (or whatever format of citation you need to use). At least in this way the reader will clearly see that the quote is not taken directly from the original source.

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