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I wrote a report to the state department of transportation for a research project they sponsored. Can I use the same texts/paragraphs from the report to write journal articles? In other words, does it consider plagiarism to do that? I am the author of both, the report and the research papers. Does the final report for a project consider a published work?

  • Thanks guys for your answers. The state department has no problem in using the results for publishing research papers. My only concern is the self-plagiarism. I spent a lot of time writing that report and, I honestly want to copy several sentences from the report to journal articles. I just can't find a better way to rewrite these sentences and this will speed up my writing. – Ahmed Nov 28 '18 at 1:27
  • Copying some sentences should be okay. Just make sure you change the formatting and style – Richard Erickson Nov 29 '18 at 17:27
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Can I use the same texts/paragraphs from the report to write journal articles? In other words, does it consider plagiarism to do that? I am the author of both, the report and the research papers. Does the final report for a project consider a published work?

The short answer to your questions are it depends. The long answer is likely yes, you can probably publish both with some caveats.

In principle, there is nothing wrong with using a project report as the basis for a journal article. Speaking from experience, I have co-authored several completion reports that were used as the basis for manuscripts. For example, the Great Lakes Fisheries Commission Sea Lamprey Control Broad publishes completion reports on their webpage, but still encourages the investigators to publish the work in peer reviewed journal articles. However, there are some important considerations:

  • Make sure your funding agency is okay with you publishing their report. On a more positive note, some funding agencies will encourage you to publish.
  • Is your completion report public and is it citable? You may or may not need to cite your previous work. Mentioning the completion report in your cover letter would also help address this problem with the journal.
  • The completion report likely will not be formatted correctly or written in a style suitable for a journal. Likely your methods section will be okay and possibly the results section. Most likely, the introduction and discussion will need to be adapted to fit the journal's style and tone.
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First of all you have to check with the state dept. if they allow publishing the findings/results as most of the time such projects are very confidential.

Secondly, it is better to rephrase your findings in a report. As a matter of fact, the writing norms and styles for report writing are quite different than what the academic audience expect. I am afraid if you submit your report (or excerpt from it) in form of a paper, the reviewers might reject it on basis of its write-up.

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    It's a department of transportation, not a department of foreign affairs. Transportation is not usually confidential. – Anonymous Physicist Nov 27 '18 at 8:27
  • I understand this thing. But as far as project related to government collaborations are concerned, it is always advisable to consult the appropriate authority to avoid any untoward situations. The layers of officiality are often too complex. – Sjaffry Nov 27 '18 at 9:19
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This cannot be plagiarism, since it is your own work. It could in principle be self-plagiarism, but since the report you wrote is not an academic paper, this does not really apply either. If the report is public, your journal article should cite it and point out the amount of coincidence.

That said, Sjaffry is right in pointing out that making a paper out of a report typically involves extensive rewrite anyway, since the writing styles tend to differ.

  • @RichardErickson How do you disagree with me? I don't see any inconsistency compared to your answer. – Arno Nov 27 '18 at 17:32
  • I re-read your answer and agree with you. (Also, I didn't downvote your answer). – Richard Erickson Nov 28 '18 at 13:25

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