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I am writing a non-academic report based on the research I did for my PhD thesis. The report is a condition of the funding that supported my research. It is non-academic and will be published publicly.

Much of the work in the thesis has also been published or is under review as journal articles or conference papers. This has been declared in the thesis in line with the guidelines of my institution. The thesis is awaiting a few final revisions so has not yet been submitted.

My questions are about reproducing the work in the report:

1) Where the public report includes results from the papers, the papers have been referenced in the normal way, and any direct quotations identified as such. Should I ALSO cite the thesis in these cases? (My initial view is that this would be unnecessary.)

2) There are sections of the report, particularly in the introduction and conclusion, that could be written by cutting and pasting paragraphs from the thesis, with some editing to maintain the flow, etc. Obviously, in an academic publication, this would be self-plagiarism, but is this an issue for a non-academic report? Would this be considered self-plagiarism? Could it be covered by a general citation ("Some of this report is reproduced from (Author, Thesis Title....)" or "Some passages have been quoted verbatim from the following source.....")? Or do I need to rewrite / paraphrase these paragraphs?

3) Neither the report nor thesis have yet been published. It is likely that the report will be published before the thesis is published, and possible that the report is published before the thesis is submitted. Would I therefore need to cite the report in the thesis, to avoid self-plagiarism in the thesis?

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    Are you listed as an author of the report? If not (since it does not list individual authors but only the institution, ...) I would be more careful. Someone could mistakenly(!) assume that you plagiarized that report since your authorship is not visible. – J-Kun Feb 25 at 12:21
  • Yes I am listed as the lead author @J-Kun – doctorer Mar 5 at 23:33
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Almost all questions about plagiarism come down to the question of what expectation of originality the documents carry.

In particular, a funding report doesn’t carry the same expectation of originality that either a journal paper or a thesis would. It’s very common, and legitimate, for a funding report to consist (partly or entirely) of material re-used from other presentations of the work. (At least, this is the norm in my experience in maths and theoretical CS; I can’t speak for all fields or all funding bodies, of course.)

So it should be absolutely fine to re-use material from the thesis or paper in the report; and I’d feel it’s fine to use a blanket attribution like “some parts of [or “much of”] this report are based on [or “taken from”] the corresponding thesis (Smith 2020) and paper (Smith and Jones 2019).”

It is likely that the report will be published before the thesis is published, and possible that the report is published before the thesis is submitted. Would I therefor need to cite the report in the thesis, to avoid self-plagiarism in the thesis?

It certainly doesn’t hurt to do this. But it’s common, and understood, that the chronology of publication may not match the chronology of production, so there’s no need to make it sound like it detracts from the originality of the thesis. It can be given as an aside, and phrased as e.g. “The report (Smith 2019) contains material excerpted from this thesis”, or similar. Conversely, the report can and should still cite the thesis in this case, listing it as “(in preparation)”, “(to appear)”, or similar.

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    I guess that should read "almost all questions about self-plagiarism". – Uwe Feb 25 at 12:57
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    @Uwe I don't think that such a restriction is necessary. If you publish a paper in an academic journal then the expectation is that it is all your own work unless you specifically state otherwise; if you are chatting to someone in a bar about what you do there is no such expectation. In the first case you must carefully cite all the work of other people that you make use of; in the latter case, if you do, no-one will ever want to chat with you in that bar ever again. – JeremyC Feb 25 at 22:58
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Always cite yourself in any published work. Since the work is yours, however, you can quote extensively from the thesis, but make sure you indicate it as a quote. Paraphrasing doesn't mean you don't need to cite.

However, in a case like this, as long as no confusion could result in who did what or where the original material can be found, you can probably use a general citation. However, I'd still "quote" it as appropriate if you copy from it. Even a footnote that says that quoted material is taken from ... would probably be fine.

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    Thanks @buffy I just added a 3rd question - what if the report is published first? Should I reference the thesis in the report in the same way? – doctorer Feb 24 at 23:46
  • I don't have a good answer for that and I've been seeking one. I guess I'll just defer to user PLL for that question. Best to have the report cite the thesis, but maybe necessary the other way round. – Buffy Feb 25 at 14:13
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1) Where the public report includes results from the papers, the papers have been referenced in the normal way, and any direct quotations identified as such. Should I ALSO cite the thesis in these cases? (My initial view is that this would be unnecessary.)

Cite both, especially when the thesis extends (as it most likely does) the paper.

2) There are sections of the report, particularly in the introduction and conclusion, that could be written by cutting and pasting paragraphs from the thesis, with some editing to maintain the flow, etc. Obviously, in an academic publication, this would be self-plagiarism, but is this an issue for a non-academic report? Would this be considered self-plagiarism? Could it be covered by a general citation ("Some of this report is reproduced from (Author, Thesis Title....)" or "Some passages have been quoted verbatim from the following source.....")? Or do I need to rewrite / paraphrase these paragraphs?

A thesis isn't considered as "published," so it can be treated similarly to a technical report or draft, hence, you can recycle material.

3) Neither the report nor thesis have yet been published. It is likely that the report will be published before the thesis is published, and possible that the report is published before the thesis is submitted. Would I therefor need to cite the report in the thesis, to avoid self-plagiarism in the thesis?

You can state in the latter document: Parts of this thesis/report previously appeared in [X] or A preliminary version of this thesis/report previously appeared in [X] or Report [X] includes a summary of these results or ...

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