I'm reading this peer-review article which I'm certainly going to use as a source for my paper. The article is written by Robert E. Denton.

Now, in this Denton article, Denton quotes an excerpt from another author, Murray Edelman. This excerpt is intriguing, and I would like to add it to my paper as an additional source. Denton provides text information of Edelman's work on his references page.

My questions are these: do scholars ever do this? and by "this" I mean do research, and in there research(in the peer reviewed article he or she is reading) find an excerpt or quote of another work and include that excerpt or quote in their work without reading the entire article or book which that excerpt from?

Is there a specific term for this type of citation? I have a feeling that there isn't.

Is it an unspoken practice?

Now, I would be using a similar interpretation to Edelman's excerpt that Denton's uses because there are only so many interpretations of four lines of text, but i would be relating it to very a different social phenomenon(these are socio-political works), so I can't exactly say that this is plagiarism.

Would it be okay to quote Denton's assertion, and then quote the Edelman excerpt which he uses to support his assertion, and thereore use both quotes successively to support my own argument?

1 Answer 1


It's a bad idea. Go find the original source. There are stories of misquoted data from citations being propagated through the literature because one early paper didn't go all the way back to the original source.

If E quotes D correctly, you're free to draw on both their arguments with proper citation to both.

  • I would understand to find the original source for papers that contain a lot of data, but would you extend this suggestion to papers in the humanities or liberal arts? Where there is less data and more philosophizing? Commented Apr 14, 2016 at 23:29
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    @DannyRodriguez there's no difference because without going to the original source you might miss context. Perhaps Edelman was too select in what he quoted, etc.
    – mkennedy
    Commented Apr 14, 2016 at 23:54
  • @DannyRodriguez, the story I'm thinking of involved a recent Science or Nature article explaining how one number had been misquoted through a sequence of dozens or hundreds of articles of the years and ended up with some bad results throughout. Also, as mkennedy notes, it's entirely possible for E to quote D badly or uncharitably out of context so that if you didn't double check you could be caught way out on a tiny limb.
    – Bill Barth
    Commented Apr 15, 2016 at 0:00
  • Thanks guys! This was really helpful. I suppose there are no shortcuts in academia. Other wise it would lose some of its prestige. Commented Apr 15, 2016 at 0:33

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