Q: How should I cite a source that I came across in a review paper?

Detailed Question -

I have a question about how to cite the reference on the manuscript writing.

If I read a review paper and want to cite the reference, should I make only the original text to be a reference? Or, should I make both the review paper and the original text to be a reference?

If the former option is correct, I wonder the review papers are seldom cited. Is my understanding correct?

1 Answer to this question

Ideally, if you have come across the original paper or primary source because it is cited by another (a secondary source), you should track down the original, read it, and cite it in your paper, rather than citing the secondary source. However, if you cannot for some reason, track the original paper, you can cite the secondary source, that is, the review paper.

If you have found the original, it is fine to cite just that and not mention the review paper at all. However, if you want to discuss an interpretation or observation that the author of the review paper has made about the original paper, you may need to cite both the sources. 

While it is acceptable to cite secondary sources, you should not have too many of them on your reference list. As an author, you are expected to read the originals and not rely too much on what another author has said about a study or how he/she has interpreted it. That is the reason why review papers are not cited as much as original articles.

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