I am writing a technical report for my Bachelors degree in Computer science. When writing the background section I noticed that, for one specific topic, there will be a whole lot of equations. After describing some mathematical models and the flow of data between different nodes and such, would it normally in a thesis be OK to reference the equations to a book? The reason for even asking this is that if I were to give the equations in my own report, it would basically just be copying them straight out of the pages where the author of a specific book has collected them.

I am not asking about plagiarism. As I would reference to the book correctly, I assume that would not be a problem. But I am wondering if this would be considered OK, or is it "lazy", or something like that.

The models themselves are central to my work, but the instructions for the background part we've been given at my university are to provide basic knowledge. Therefore I think that the equations may be unnecessary to include.

Also, I am aware that I should speak to my supervisor about this, but he is on vacation and I am trying to work diligently. Of course I could just write the equations anyway, and maybe add a bit of explanation as well, and if it turns out to be redundant I can just remove it.

  • Seems like you already figured out a solution: "just write the equations anyway, and maybe add a bit of explanation as well, and if it turns out to be redundant I can just remove it."
    – Michael
    Apr 13, 2017 at 19:46
  • 1
    Include whatever your target audience would find frustrating not to find within your paper. Note, putting some or all in an appendix might make be something to consider. Apr 14, 2017 at 2:16

1 Answer 1


The suggestion to put them in an appendix is a good one. That allows you to change your mind later (after you speak with your advisor). In fact you can write the main text along the lines of "the underlying equations are discussed HERE," and near the end of your writing you change HERE to reference either your appendix, or the book. It also allows you to postpone putting time into this part of your thesis, until your advisor tells you whether he/she wants it.

One concern I have is consistent notation. If you just reference to another source, are you relying on readers to figure out the needed notation changes? If so, it's better that you include the equations, properly translated.

  • That is a very good point you make, about the consistency of notation. This is one reason for me not to just reference to the book I have.. because I used other notations in preceding parts of my text. Thank you for making me aware of that! Apr 14, 2017 at 9:36

You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .