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Secondary referencing

Secondary referencing involves referring to a document which you have not seen, but which has been used and cited by someone else. This is not generally good academic practice- you should make an effort to track down the original work and reference that.

For example, you may read a textbook that brings together lots of different theories about a topic to give students an overview. If you just want to mention that there are a lot of different theories, you can refer to the textbook, but if you need to use one of the theories in depth, you should track down and read the original theorist’s work so that you know you are getting their full ideas, not just the shortened and reworded version that the textbook author gave you.

Remember that images also have primary creators and can be copied into secondary sources. If you see a photograph on a website that originally came from a journal article, for example, you need to either find the article and reference that, or do secondary referencing for the image.

If you have not been able to locate the original work, a secondary reference will look like this:

Complete reference to the original journal article, book or other item. Cited in: Complete reference to the item you have read: Page number where the original source was quoted.

Examples of references

Meijer. J.H. and Robbers, Y. (2014) Wheel running in the wild. Proceedings of the Royal Society B281(1786):20140210. Cited in: Something About Science (2017) A picture is worth a thousand words. Something About Science Accessed 12 February 2017.  

Senogles, H. (1938) The standing stones of Anglesey. Anglesey antiquarian society and field club transactions. 38, 24 – 29.  Cited in: Dyer, J. (1990) Ancient Britain. University of Philadelphia Press: 58.

Examples of citing in the text of your work: (Senogles 1938, cited in Dyer 1990: 58) says that… or Senogles (1938) cited in Dyer (1990: 58) says that….

Photo of a wild mouse running on a wheel (Meijer and Robbers 2014, cited in Something About Science 2017)

See the section on Citing secondary sources for a complete guide to doing this kind of citation.

Here are the full rules about each piece of information:

1. The full reference to the original work. (Follow the instructions for referencing a book/journal article/ etc).

2. The words “Cited in:”

3. The reference to the source you have used (Follow the instructions for referencing a book/journal article/website etc).

4. The page number in the source you have used where the reference to the earlier source appears.

It is not possible to make EndNote do secondary references correctly. You will need to edit your reference after you save your document to Plain Text (See Manually editing EndNote citations or references.)