A secondary reference is when you refer to a piece of work that was cited in a source that you have read – i.e. you did not read the original.
When writing an assignment, it is good practice to always use the original source of information whenever possible (the primary reference).
It is bad academic practice to habitually use secondary referencing. However, sometimes it will not be possible to get hold of a primary source (for example, because it is out of print). In such instances, it is possible to use a secondary reference.
You need to cite both sources, using either "quoted in" or "cited in" depending on whether the author of the work you are reading is directly quoting or paraphrasing (summarising) the original text.
Citing when the author has directly quoted the original
Carson and Fairbairn (2002, quoted in Ross, 2012, p. 20) describe research as a "language game".
Citing when the author has paraphrased (summarised) the original
Carper (1978, cited in Ross, 2012) describes the importance of knowledge gained from experience.
If you were unable to read the original work yourself (i.e. Carson and Fairbairn, or Carper), then you do not include them in your reference list. They appear in the in-text citation only; you would then reference the work you have read (Ross) following the usual format for whatever type of material it is (the item used in this example is an ebook).
Ross, T. (2012) A survival guide for health research methods. Maidenhead: Open University Press
| This guide uses the UoB-Harvard system. Always consult your unit handbook or tutor to make sure you are using the correct system for the unit. Some subjects use other systems.|
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