Well, while carrying out a review of literature for drafting a proposal I found like these in some of previous works (reports).

Some benefits of the “certain thing” on xyz are abc( person1, date) , cde( person2, date), fgh( person3, date) , ijk( person4, date)


Some of the more researches in the field include ( person1, date; person2, date; person3, date; person4, date).

Now If I have to include and cite those in my report, which one is better idea? Also, please notice the nature of contents being cited(benefits and previous works).

Option 1: Cite as “as cited in report X” which I read and have only one reference of that report (pros: less references)

Option 2: Go to each report, study and include each one(cited) as separate citation in my report (pros: may be, will look more detail investigations. But is it required in cases like this one?)

Which one should be more ideal? So, what should I do? Any suggestions?

  • Please note that you are probably mixing two issues here. One question (the one you seem to be asking) is: Should the content of referenced works be briefly alluded to (if only by a single keyword)? The other question (that you are not asking, but that could be asked, given that your two samples choose different paths) is: Should references be used as annotations that could be deleted without syntactically breaking the sentence (1st sample), or should references be used like words (2nd sample)? (If I recall correctly, the 2nd question has been dealt with before here on Academia SE, and ... Apr 10, 2015 at 9:38
  • ... in order to ask the first question without touching upon the 2nd one, I suggest swapping your 2nd sample with something like "There has been more related research in the field (person1, date; person2, date; person3, date; person4, date).") Apr 10, 2015 at 9:40
  • Option 1 is lazy and does not give credit where credit is due. I'm not sure what the proposal is for but it irks me when people constantly cite reviews instead of the original sources. You should choose option 2 not because it makes you 'look good' but because those studies should be acknowledged.
    – user49483
    Apr 10, 2015 at 10:11
  • @user49483: Apparently, I am interpreting the question completely differently from you, as it seems to me that in both options, the very same (amount of) credit is given for each of the four cited works. The only difference is that in option 1, the content of each publication is briefly addressed, whereas in option 2, there is just a superficial remark that the four works are somehow related, and they are listed without any further comment (so readers will have to go to each report to find out what it is about). OP, could you please clarify your question? Apr 10, 2015 at 11:17
  • @O.R.Mapper I was interpreting the quoted bits as examples of reports/reviews that contain information the OP needs to acknowledge in the proposal rather than examples of how to cite multiple works. OP then seems to be asking whether to cite a review not the original sources (option 1) or cite the original sources (option 2). But it is confusing and I might be wrong.
    – user49483
    Apr 10, 2015 at 11:25

2 Answers 2


Like user49483 said in the comment, citing a review is considered very bad form. Basically, it is your job to read a lot (reading widely) and cite what is appropriate.

As one who marks papers, I definitely reduce students' scores for citing indirectly like this (and I see it all the time).

When you cite indirectly, you are saying "I know this is important because I am citing it but I did not read this important piece." JeffE said in a comment (which I cannot find) that not citing the original is actually you saying that you could NOT FIND it because if you CAN find it you MUST read and cite it (or something to that effect).

One of the many reasons to read and cite the original is because the third party (reviewer) might be reporting on the original work incorrectly. I saw this one time when someone said a famous author in my field had said something which did not sound like that author at all. So, I re-read the writing which was referenced and it was simply being mis-reported. If a reviewer mis-reports and you cite the review then you are showing that you do not have the proper understanding (and your grade should reflect that lack of understanding).

Is it more work to cite properly? Of course it is. Doing anything properly takes more time but we do it because it is the proper way and taking shortcuts simply leads to poor results in any field or study or work.

  • Thank you very much. Yes, it makes sense. But I was just curious to know on those specific cases such as literally just listing previous works or benefits. So if report x says: (report1,date), (r2,date1), (r3,date1), (r4,date1) were some researches on in topic then if I have to mention same thing as info in my report then I can say: some of the researches on this were (report1,date), (r2,date1), (r3,date1), (r4,date1) and list 4 original refs in my report?(legally put or forget about where I found it as it's not his work). Will it be plagiarism or not? I am really confused and curious. Apr 10, 2015 at 12:48
  • @user2700108 I don't really understand your question clearly so my answer might be off. Normally, I would expect someone to write about what those authors did. Just to say they "researched on this topic" is not very useful. If you did not read the original work, you should not cite the original work. If you want to read the review and cite the original, that is not the right way, an indirect citation is better than an inaccurate citation (the citation says you actually read the piece you are citing). If my answer does not fit your question, please clarify the question.
    – earthling
    Apr 10, 2015 at 13:58

The value of a review is the way in which it gathers and synthesizes prior work to form a more complete picture of the field. How you should cite things you learned about through the review depends on whether they are being used as examples of that broader picture or unique elements.

If the work is an example of the broader picture, which it sounds like it is from what you have written, then you need to credit both the review and the individual examples, e.g.:

Other research in this area is thoroughly reviewed in [REVIEW], of which the most relevant to this discussion are [X], [Y], and [Z], because of reasons.

On the other hand, if you really just want to talk about paper X, and the only value of the review to the discussion is that it's where you first stumbled across X, then you only need to cite paper X.

In both cases, however, you need to actually make yourself familiar with the work that you cite, not just take somebody else's word for it, since the review may well have misinterpreted the work or presented a slanted picture since the author had an axe to grind on the subject.

  • Yes, got it. Thanks. Makes lot of sense. As an analysis of previous works, I read more than 15 reports in detail and included 10 of them in the proposal analyzing & presenting their findings and limitations (paragraph for each). But there are some more researches listing in a report, which I was trying to include as “In addition as mentioned in report x following researches …….[10 researches] are also carried out in topic”. But, may be better idea will be to study (check) each one and put very relevant ones only and put a direct reference. Thank you. Apr 10, 2015 at 16:42

You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .