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I am about ready to sumbit a paper in mathematics, but I have one worry. While researching, I came across a sentence in the introduction of an old paper that I really want to use (with a very minor modification) in my abstract. It has been in all of my drafts for a long while now, and I can't see getting rid of it!!!

Is this a serious issue? Even though I'm stealing the sentence, I am not actually stealing any mathematics, so it kind of seems (??) okay to me. The old paper is cited elsewhere in my paper, by the way. I just don't know how I can give credit for a phrase when it appears in the abstract... it would seem overkill to put the whole citation in the abstract.

In times like these I wish I hadn't ditched all my English major friends.

EDIT: THANKS for all of the replies. You convinced me to change to wording, and I believe I ended up with something almost as good. I am a nervous wreck as it is, so I definitely don't need this plagiarism thing weighing on my conscience!!

1 Answer 1

Most journals do not allow you to include references in the abstract, but you should not steal the sentence without attribution. Some options:

  1. Remove the sentence from the abstract and include it in the Introduction, with appropriate attribution and referencing.
  2. Put the quote in both the abstract and the Introduction. In the abstract, try the following format: '"This is a beautiful quote about mathematics," accoring to Joe Brown.' In the Introduction, repeat the quote with the full reference.
  3. Put it into your own words in the abstract and include the quote, properly referenced in the Introduction.
  4. Take it out.