Let's assume that I stumble upon a paper by author X where he cites ideas of A, B and C. Now I know about the rules of secondary sources and how I should cite them in case I haven't taken a look at the primary sources. But if I do track down the primary sources by myself and cite them instead, should I, somehow, credit author X for referring me to those ideas?

Usually when doing a review of literature, I open like 10 studies, 'harvest' a few ideas and primary sources from each and track them down. Is this a good practice? I'd still cite, if required, the 10 studies for their own information (e.g. empirical results).

EDIT: the part which may be unique is: Assume there are 20 citations in a paper. Should one feel unethical for 'harvesting' like 5-8 citations and tracking their original source without citing the intermediary source? It just feels like 'copying' since the intermediary paper 'led' one to these 5-8 citations.

  • 1
    Edited to include the part which I would like an answer for...
    – R. AS.
    May 27, 2016 at 13:04


Browse other questions tagged .