Q: Is citing a case from a doctoral paper ethical?

Detailed Question -

I am a postgrad in China studying for a master's degree, and I’m preparing my graduation essay. Through my school's online library, I found a doctoral paper whose author is from a university in the UK. I excerpted and summarized a case from that paper and cited it in my own graduation essay. Is this ethical?

1 Answer to this question

Scholars often use previously published literature to acquire background knowledge on a subject and to further build up the knowledge in that field. It is a very basic practice to refer other people’s work before writing your own paper. In fact, academics do cite other researchers’ works in their original papers. There is nothing unethical about citing other scholarly works as long as you give credit to the original authors and don’t intend to plagiarize, i.e. show their work as yours.

While you cite a paper, make sure you mention the source in your references. Also, please quote or paraphrase the content that you pick from another author’s papers.

Here are some excellent resources that will help you include a researcher’s work without plagiarizing:

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