Can one cite a comparison table in a relevant work in his own paper without asking the jounal or authors permission if the source has been explicitly stated (e.g. A comparson of X and Y in Z conditions [32])? For those writing survey papers sometimes they cite tables, diagrams and algorithms from different papers do they explicit permission from every one of them?

Edit: I have included dummy illustrations of original table and referenced for more clarity (Note that in the papers there are six columns. I reduced it to five. Thanks in advance

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    In the survey papers I've read, authors convert cited tables into their own, new tables, sometimes combining multiple cited table data into a custom table for the survey paper. Does this strategy not work for you? Or, alternatively, why do you need to embed the exact table you are citing into your paper?
    – Mad Jack
    Commented Feb 16, 2018 at 2:09
  • Thanks Jack I appreciate your feedback. The entire table was not embedded but a pertinent aspect to emphasize a point in the paper. Furthermore, for a complete table (very small table though), I think it is sufficient to clearly mention the motivation for including this in the paper. The paper is accepted for publication but when I was reading through the agreement terms I found something requiring written permissions from the copyright holder with regards to tables, illustrations and text quotations Commented Feb 16, 2018 at 2:30
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    What country's laws are we talking about? In the US, this is why we have fair use.
    – user1482
    Commented Feb 16, 2018 at 21:43

1 Answer 1


Unless the paper you are citing it from has been licensed under something like a creative commons license, you most likely need permission.* The good news is, if you're citing from a reputable publisher and publishing with a reputable publisher, this should be easy and free. Below is a screenshot of, as an example, a recently published article from JACS, note the highlighted "Rights and Permissions" link.JACS screenshot with rights and permissions highlighted

Clicking this link will take you to the Copyright Clearance Centre. Follow the on-screen instructions to register your request and receive your license. Most of the major journal publishers and learned societies have a reciprocal agreement that allows content to be reproduced between their journals free of charge.

If an open access article has been licensed under a Creative Commons (or similar) license, you do not need to follow this process, you can just use it under the terms of that license (typically this means that you'd need to include the reference it was taken from and "copyright [year] by [publisher or authors], used under cc-[type]" in the figure caption).

Do be careful with non-commercial use though - if you work in a university, you count as non-commercial, but the publisher probably counts as commercial. So you can't usually rely on a non-commercial permission for republishing in a journal.

*Data itself isn't copyrightable, but the table is. Exactly where the line is drawn (e.g. if you re-typeset a basically identical table) I don't know. But getting permission, in most cases, should be trivial. So there's no reason not to do it.

  • Thanks for your response. Please your statement: "Most of the major journal publishers and learned societies have a reciprocal agreement that allows content to be reproduced between their journals free of charge." is not very clear to me yet. Also, in a survey paper for instance, the author redraws diagrams for proposed mechanisms from a number say 25 journal papers. Does he need to go through this process for each diagram or table he redraws from the papers? Thank you once again Commented Feb 16, 2018 at 1:41
  • They mean that PublisherA and PublisherB have a deal that says PublisherA can publish articles using tables and images from papers published in PublisherB and vice versa Commented Feb 16, 2018 at 4:10
  • @Wandering Chemist. Please, I haven't understood your statement "Data itself isn't copyrightable, but the table is" properly. I hope this can be explained Commented Feb 16, 2018 at 11:55
  • You can obviously use data. A table is kind of "artwork" so either you redraw it or ask for permission to exactly reproduce an already published one.
    – Alchimista
    Commented Feb 16, 2018 at 14:14
  • @Abdulhameed: In response to your question about redrawing figures and mechanisms from multiple papers: You would need to do this for every copyrighted figure/table/etc that you reproduce (the only exception is when they come from the same paper, when you may be able to license them both at the same time). You use the term "redraw"; as I've already indicated, I don't know exactly where the line is drawn (pun unintended) between a reproduction that requires permission and re-rendering that doesn't. But getting permission is usually easy enough that you might as well do it anyway. Commented Feb 16, 2018 at 15:27

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