Q: How should I include a citation when quoting a passage second hand without referring to the original paper?

Detailed Question -

I am summarizing a published paper as my homework, and the paper includes citations from papers A and B. I have been trying to look for the original papers (A and B) in order to cite them. Paper A can be accessed online. However, paper B is maintained only at two university libraries overseas. Accordingly, I may have no option but to quote the relevant passage second hand, without referring to paper B. In such a situation, how should I mention this citation? In the worst case, I am considering excluding this citation. However, I would like to include it if possible, as it looks very important.

1 Answer to this question

Don’t worry. This is fine to do. This is called a secondary source, and it’s okay to do this when you really don’t have access to the original (or primary) source. So, you don’t have to “sacrifice” this important passage. :-)

Citing it is quite simple. You first need to refer to the secondary source in your main text and then mention the primary source in parentheses (brackets) along with the year. For example: ‘According to authors X and Y (as cited in paper M, 2012)…’

For more information and an alternative way of including this citation, you may refer to this similar query by another researcher: Should I cite the primary sources if I have come across them in a secondary source?

And for more help on citations and references, you may refer to the following resources:

All the best for your assignment!