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My B. Sc. thesis is shortlisted for a young scientist award, which allows me to take part in the respective society's yearly conference for free, submit a full conference paper as well as present a poster. The paper has already been submitted after positive abstract review, I'm currently creating the poster.

While selecting publications for the poster, I noticed that I did not cite my own thesis in the paper. I suppose that this happened rather unconcious, probably because I viewd the paper as another version of my thesis - I used the same data and methods, and only created new illustrations and of course rewrote the text.

I am wondering: would this be considered self-plagiarism? And could this potentially be harmful or may it be considered to be of low importance. Is there anything I can do about this? My field is earth observation btw, if that is of help.

  • Additional info: thesis and paper + poster share the exact same title, as this was required for the nomination. – bagadosh Jan 27 at 20:37
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    Editing the additional info into the question would improve it. – Tommi Jan 28 at 10:19
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Yes, you should always cite your own work and failing to do so can be called a violation of norms. This (self plagiarism) is, I think, a relatively recent concern, but it is something that everyone should give thought to in their writing.

If at all possible, provide a new version of the publication, in which you make the correction before it is published and do something appropriate in the poster as well.

Not everyone will complain and some will consider it a minor violation by a novice, but some might judge you harshly. Be aware of that and defend yourself against it. When in doubt, cite it.

The purpose of avoiding plagiarism is a bit different than that of avoiding self plagiarism. Ordinary plagiarism is a violation because it represents someone else's work as your own. Self plagiarism doesn't do that, of course, so the purpose of avoiding it is different.

When you present something that is derived from earlier, visible, work, and you cut and paste, you are likely to cut, past, and edit a bit. This can subtly change the meaning of things in a way that may not be obvious to a reader. Moreover, the original work appeared in a context including various references and other words that you did not cut and paste. This context is invisible to the reader of the new work.

Therefore, when you use and update your old work you cite it in the new work. This permits a reader of the new work to find and analyze the context, just as they would if you were citing someone else's work.

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It's fine (that you didn't). In general, I would do so, because why not. But at the same time, a bachelor's thesis almost like a draft or a school essay, not a real publication.

Even for use of your Ph.D. (which is formally published in that the microfilm is held by Michigan State), I don't think most people would think you were self plagiarizing by forgetting to cite it if you repurpose a chapter as a paper. I would still cite it but more for the reason of (a) someone will get additional info on the broader area of study, to included even non-journal published results, within the thesis and (b) from the principle of self-citing to drive your cite count. But I don't think people will consider it self plagiarism.

What people really don't like is publishing the same article twice in different journals. If you self cite, it takes some edge off of that (although you shouldn't do a blatant reprint of more than 50% content even if you self cite to cover yourself). But there can be a fair amount of cut and paste of parts of your work. For instance with self reviews or extension of work or experimental methods. (And yes, you can say "see the methods of paper A" but sometimes that is inconvenient.)

Also, I see people tending to do a bit of cut and paste to create conference proceedings papers especially in fields where these are not considered as important as journal publications--you have to give the conference something, but you don't want to waste chance to get it into important journals. So the citation covers that to show you are acknowledging part was published before. Usually I would do some mix/match of previous work and basically create a "publication" that is more like a written version of my slide talk. [I admit this is a little field dependent. Some people have a lot more respect for conference proceedings and consider them real papers but in my field/group, they were not considered that and people would often go to the meeting and even blow off submitting a paper. But this is definitely field dependent.]

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    Sorry, but I think every bit of this is suspect. – Buffy Jan 27 at 22:34
  • "Every" bit? Or just about 50% of it? You can't find anything you agree with? Nothing? Zero? – guest Jan 27 at 22:37
  • Anyways even if it's "wrong", it's good to expose people to different points of view. Sometimes Hermione is right; sometimes Fred and George are. Let people at least hear the cynical point of view so they can have it for reference. – guest Jan 27 at 22:38
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    However, if you advocate a dangerous practice and someone else takes your advice, it is they who suffer the consequences, not you. – Buffy Jan 27 at 22:44
  • Critical thinking... – guest Jan 27 at 23:12

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