Considering that proper reference is provided (journal, author name, date etc.), is copying exact numbers from published scientific articles could be considered plagiarism or copyright infringement?

For example, there is a research called "Dancing can reverse the signs of aging in the brain". I need to cite in my own research some data from it, including how many there were participants, their gender (how many men/women), age and BMI. There are some tables as well, from which I intend to take some baseline numbers. As a result, I'm making my own conclusions (words or sentences are not copied, only numbers).


4 Answers 4


No, it's neither:

  • It's not plagiarism because you cite the original source and you don't try to put others' results as your own.
  • It's not a copyright infringement because there's no copyright on data.

I cannot vouch for your field, but in physics and chemistry it is quite common to cite data from previous research to compare with your own data. For example, you can have a table with columns, first column being your data, and the other columns being experimental data obtained by other people. You need to properly reference the other sources. As a footnote to your table, you can put "data taken from Ref. 6", for example. As an example, check the first table from this quantum chemistry paper.

If you need to paste figures from other people's papers, you need to get the publisher's permission first. You may need other people's figures when you write reviews or books.


As long as you cite appropriately you are fine. Scientific articles are supposed to interact with one another, and in the process we often refer to results by others. If it is convenient to repeat key findings, or aspects of the sample, you can repeat those. It becomes plagiarism when the reader may reasonably think that you are the author of those numbers. That is why we cite, to give credit where credit is due.


You are doing "comparative" research. You are publishing your own results. Then you are comparing your results with those of Mr. X or Journal Y, in which case you need to present the other party's results.

As long as you make it clear which results are whose, you're fine.

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