Stay Informed

Stay Informed is a series of hints, tips, guides and recommendations written by the Library Staff to help make using the library easier and more enjoyable.


How should I cite secondary sources?

What should you do if you want to cite something that you have found cited in somebody else's work?

We get this question a lot. People often come across a quotation or reference and want to know if they can cite it second-hand.

Using secondary referencing is perfectly ok but only if you have no other option. You should always try to track down and cite your sources first-hand. It is always in your interest to read the original. It demonstrates greater effort and it protects you from having to rely on somebody else's reading or interpretation.

Let’s say, however, that the source you want to use is unattainable or out of print, then you would use secondary referencing. Citing a secondary source only affects the in-text citation, e.g.:

(Murphy, 2008, p. 101, cited in Kelly, 2012, p. 21)

Your bibliography should only contain details on Kelly's book to let your reader know that you have read Kelly and Kelly has read Murphy. Your bibliography should make no mention of Murphy because it is not a source that you have consulted. 

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