I wrote a lengthy mathematics paper that consists of about 8 sections.

For comprehensiveness and consistency purposes, I have a subsection that massively quotes one of my supervisor's papers (there is no other paper in existence that covers that subtopic in the same detail, I tried to preserve the original rigor and formulations, and that paper is simply brilliant). I stated what is being done at beginning of the subsection, and everything is properly referenced.

About half of the subsection is citations, and about half of it is my own text.

The supervisor was extremely happy with the paper, and I got great feedback from the faculty.

However, I'm a bit embarrassed by the massive citations in the subsection, and I am concerned that there may be an ethical issue with that. Normally, I don't quote any text in my papers (although of course I use references) -- the entire text is my own.

I would appreciate your opinion on this issue.

  • What kind of ethical issue are you concerned about? If you quote properly I could at most imagine issues of quality or originality.
    – Roland
    Oct 27, 2016 at 16:45
  • @Roland I heard something to the effect that even if quotations are properly referenced, if there are too many of them, the work is considered unoriginal. Even though in this paper, it is confined to one subsection, I am not comfortable with that for this reason. I think there is a reason why people don't usually do what I've done.
    – Jake
    Oct 27, 2016 at 17:38
  • I don't think there is any issue with this, but do you actually need all of those quotations? Is it not possible to just bring up the conclusion of the paper and refer the reader to your advisor's paper for derivation, etc.? Oct 27, 2016 at 21:40
  • 1
    @Hadi The purpose of that paper was to be a comprehensive and consistent-in-detail introduction to the entire topic, including earlier results, advisor's results (his are the only ones that are difficult to even reword), other results, and my own results. If I left out the quotations, there would be a big gaping hole in that sense. I quoted the theorems and propositions and referred the reader to the advisor's paper for derivation (maybe that doesn't really count as quotations, but I considered them as quotations to be safe).
    – Jake
    Oct 27, 2016 at 23:47

1 Answer 1


With a proper citation,
and if the total content of the paper has enough substance that is original,
and the supervisor/advisor is happy with it,
and the other faculty are too,
then it is fine.


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