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Plagiarism and Citing

Adapted from the Victoria University Library, Melbourne LibGuide.

Secondary Sources

Sometimes you want to quote information or an idea from an author that is quoted in the book or journal article you are reading, but you have not read the original source. The Publication Manual of the American Psychological Association (2010) recommends locating the original source of an idea or quotation. However, when the original source cannot be located you will need to cite the secondary source. In the text of your writing provide the authors of the original source and secondary source. In the Reference List provide details of the book or article you read. The examples below are in APA Style.

Example citing a secondary source in-text (direct quote)

Research shows that young people who experience bullying are more likely to experience ‘headaches, sleep problems and abdominal pain’ (Fekkes, Pijpers & Verloove–Vanhorick as cited in Shannon, 2013, p.16).

Example citing a secondary source in-text  (paraphrase)

When bullying is allowed to continue over time it can have a detrimental effect on the victim’s mental health (Cook & Laub as cited in Shannon, 2013).

In the Reference List provide details of the book or article you read

Shannon, C. S. (2013). Bullying in recreation and sport settings: Exploring risk factors, prevention efforts and intervention strategies. Journal of Park and  Recreation Administration, 31(1), 15-33.

A more detailed explanation of citing secondary sources can be found in the document below.


It is essential to reference the author's analysis of other peoples' work contained in a literature review or text book. For example, when reading someone else's literature review you can't present the ideas from the review as your own work. This is a form of plagiarism.

For example, if you want to use some of the ideas from the passage below, you need to acknowledge the analysis of the work of others undertaken by the author of this review.

A review of the existing literature on climate change reveals the highly politicized nature of this topic. The fallout from the “Climate Gate” scandal has enabled climate sceptics to discredit the vast amounts of data gathered that supports the contention that human activity is having an impact (Australian Government 2014; Kennedy 2013; Cameron 2013). There is compelling evidence that climate change is already affecting ecosystems worldwide (Flannery 2005). However, there is little agreement as to the extent of the problem or what to do about it (Christoff 2005; Steyn 2006). Flannery (2005) believes that the individual can make a difference to help combat climate change, whilst others push for governments to take more action (Wilderness Society 2003).

When using the ideas from the passage above, you would need to reference appropriately.See the information on this page for detailed advice on how to reference secondary sources.

It would also be expected that you would locate and read the original source. For instance, you would need to track down the publication written by Flannery and read it rather than rely on the opinion of someone else. There is a possibility that the author who wrote this piece has misrepresented the ideas of Flannery but you won't be aware of this unless you have read the original work. In addition to this, you may read Flannery's book and draw your own conclusions about it and be critical of other peoples' interpretation. This is an important aspect of academic writing.