I’m not a professional academician by any means. I’m just a medical student trying to write a paper in my spare time.

I don’t have an excellent grasp of the literature in this field. A lot of the information I’m learning comes from a single excellent review article/book chapter.

Here lies my question. This book chapter will say, e.g., ”such and such [1][2]”. Do I just cite the book chapter when I describe such and such in my background? I think not; I should probably cite [1], [2], or both.

So, the real question: is it OK/acceptable/ethical to just believe that [1] and [2] contain such and such; and just cite them without actually reading the papers? To be able to do this would save me quite a bit of time.

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    Duplicate: academia.stackexchange.com/q/45295/40589 – Dan Romik Oct 24 '15 at 20:15
  • Thank you very much, and sorry for posting a duplicate. I really did search for this before posting. – amd1972 Oct 24 '15 at 20:18
  • @JoshuaDiamond: Do not worry too much about it. If a duplicate is sufficiently difficult to find, asking a distinct question about it may actually be useful, as it helps others (who would not have asked a question for some reason) to find the answer. By the way: If your question was marked as a duplicate by somebody and you agree, you can acknowledge the duplicate and have it closed immediately. – Wrzlprmft Oct 24 '15 at 21:20

You need to make an effort to get and understand the work related to yours. That is the only way you can make sure you are building on them, not misunderstanding. If you cite it, it means to me (as a reader) that you did use that work to reach your conclusions. You might get away with citing indirectly stuff you didn't check in detail, i.e., "Smith [19], summarizing previous work by Adam [1], Eve [2] and Noah [3, 6], states that...".

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  • The thing is, though, that the information in question is a specific fact, not a theory or idea. So I can certainly be sure the information relates to mine. The challenge is finding the original source and finding that fact in the source. – amd1972 Oct 25 '15 at 20:48

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