In an article I'm writing, for a conference in engineering education, I would like to quote the following:

They do so “freely, with a full sense of volition and without the necessity of material rewards or constraints” (Deci et al., 1991, p. 328). In contrast, extrinsically motivated activity would be determined primarily by external and utilitarian goals, be it attainment, reward or success.

The article is by Dubreta, but inside of this quote is another quote, attributed to Deci et al.

Deci is not part of my list of citations, and the citation format in the article by Dubreta doesn't follow the format I need to use, which is the IEEE citation format. How do I cite this?

Some context: the article would be a scientific paper published in a conference proceeding based on original research.

  • Welcome to Writing.SE Michael! If you have a moment please check out the help center and the tour. Also, would you please edit your question to specify which citation method you are using, MLA, APA, etc.? Apr 4, 2018 at 17:29
  • Thanks! I've edited it to indicate I'm using IEEE format Apr 4, 2018 at 17:36
  • 1
    What kind of article are you writing? Popular science, peer-reviewed scientific, news, ...? Please Edit. I'm pretty sure this is answerable, but context seems likely to help.
    – user
    Apr 4, 2018 at 17:39
  • 1
    Thanks again, edited to indicate that it's a research paper for a conference Apr 4, 2018 at 17:41

1 Answer 1


According to CMU, you should include the name of the original source in or next to the quote, but "On your references page, you will only list the source you actually read". The MLA, saying "The basic rule is that in both your Works Cited list and in-text citation you will still cite [the author of the direct quote]. [the author of the direct quote] will appear in your Works Cited list – NOT [the author of the quote within the quote]."

Note that there's a difference between attribution and citation. Attribution is merely giving credit. Citation is a more formal process in which you give the reader references to follow up on the information given. If you are including the quote within the quote just because it's in the quote, then attribution is sufficient. But if your quote within a quote includes a claim that is important for your own paper, and the original paper is needed for substantiation or understanding, I recommend that you include a citation in your references page. A common theme in many Snopes articles is "We found an article by Adams claiming this is true that cited Brock. We looked up the article by Brock, and that article cited an article by Cook. We looked up the article by Cook ..." Citations shouldn't be treasure hunts.

  • Nice answer Accumulation and welcome to Writing.SE! If you have a moment please visit the tour and the help center. Have fun! Apr 4, 2018 at 21:22

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.