Example of what I want to address:

"For characterizing emotions, either for synthesis or for recognition, suitable emotional speech database is a necessary prerequisite (Ververidis and Kotropoulos 2006). An important issue to be considered in evaluating the emotional speech systems is the quality of the databases used to develop and assess the performance of the systems (Ayadi et al. 2011)."

I am an undergraduate working on my final project. I am not sure if it is because of the way I work, but I am finding myself time and time again in the process of quoting some text I found that is exactly what I need, and that specific paragraph or phrase comes from somewhere else.

I get that is very useful, in order to get a better understanding of the paper, to follow and read said sources. But I find overwhelmed under the amount of sources most paper provide, and I feel like it makes sense at some point to stop digging and write something about it.

I find two options and I do not want to be dishonest at all, it's just that sometimes I don't know what is the proper way of doing things.

A) I could quote the paragraph entirely, and with the proper notation, show where I got it from. For example: "In [source A] is stablished that a database is a prerequisite and that the quality is an important issue to be considered"

B) I could say the same, but using either both sources, or just the one addressed in the text, since it's where apparently the info comes from (AND source number 0, where I am getting the explanation, is been referenced anyway). Example: "In [source B1] is stablished that a database is a prerequisite and in source [B2] that the quality is an important issue to be considered".

What is the proper way of addressing this? I don't want to sound lazy but am I being lazy by not following every source that sustains certain ideas/phrase I am writing in my text?

  • 2
    Two pieces of advice I was given as an undergrad: never quote verbatim and always cite the primary source. Choose option B; it takes longer but it's much better academic practice.
    – astronat
    Dec 3 '16 at 18:42

It's definitely easy to get overwhelmed with all of the sources/papers available. I'm a graduate student and it still happens -- there's always lots to read and never the time to read it all.

Nevertheless, the proper thing to do here if you wish to cite the information in (Ververidis and Kotropoulos 2006) is to read that paper and use it. That doesn't mean you have to read it in-depth, but you should at least skim it. The same goes for other papers.

There's a couple of reasons for this:

  1. Remember the point of a citation is to give credit where credit is due. That means you give credit to the original author, not someone who summarized their idea.
  2. What's to say that the authors of the summary correctly summarized the idea? It's (generally) safer for you to go straight to the source.

A notable exception to this rule might be when reading a survey paper/book. These provide overviews of an entire domain -- if you're not actually exploring that domain in your own writing, the survey paper can be an acceptable way of citing an idea. That being said -- it's always preferable to cite the original source.

  • Yes, point number two is absolutely why the question ocurred to me, I was like, I'm basically trusting someone to have summarized the idea properly. I mean, everyone I read has years of knowledge and experience compared to me, but still... Thanks for the exception since I actually just encountered an example of this!
    – keont
    Dec 3 '16 at 19:45

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