I am writing a synthesis paper and have ran across a couple quotes using in an article that I will be contrasting with another article. In the article written by Esther Shein she includes the quote

"Code has become the 4th literacy. Everyone needs to know how our digital world works, not just engineers," says Mark Surman, executive director of the Mozilla Foundation

If I wanted to use this in my paper do I write it as is? Or do I still have to cite that I found it in Esther Shein's article. This was a public statement made by Mark Surman so this is where I am conflicted.

  • You are still citing the article in which the quote appears, unless you directly heard Surman say this. How to cite a secondary source really depends on the publication/academic field/institution for which you are writing. These details would be helpful. You should also check out writers.stackexchange.com and/or academia.stackexchange.com There may well already be an answer on one of those sites.
    – nxx
    Commented Mar 23, 2014 at 1:29

1 Answer 1


Here Surman is the primary source, and Shein is the secondary source.

There are exceptions, but in general the best practice is to quote from primary sources.

So you should find the original of that quote to use it. You may even find that it has been miss-quoted or taken out of context.

If you cannot obtain the original, you can cite the original and parenthetically say where you found it.

Code has become the 4th literacy. (Surman, quoted in Shein).

Some people may prefer "quoted by".

But as in all such questions, you should also seek the guidance of the teacher / academic who sets the "rules" where you are. Different people do have quite different rules and some can be quite vociferous about them!

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