I have been studying a recent paper, and wanted to extract the some data from it, in an effort to reproduce it. I wrote to the authors, and got no response, so I got the raw data by digitalizing a figure in the paper where the data is plotted.

Then I made another plot, where I plot the raw data together with mine on top of each other, to compare them. If I publish this plot and properly cite their paper, do I need to ask them for permission?

It looks like I don't, because this is not like copying and pasting a figure of theirs, but I am not 100% sure.

Please find enclosed the webpage of the publishing company where I plan to publish, which contains information on their policy on the matter. The chapter relevant to my case seems to be this one.

  • Can you elaborate on the relevance of the copyright tag?
    – user2768
    Jun 19, 2019 at 9:04
  • Figure reproduction is related to copyright, see for example this guideline from Wiley onlinelibrary.wiley.com/journal/10.1002/%28ISSN%292198-3844/… .
    – James
    Jun 19, 2019 at 9:07
  • You aren't reproducing a figure, you're recreating it, which I think is different. (Does Wiley contradict that? Perhaps you can provide a quote?)
    – user2768
    Jun 19, 2019 at 9:22
  • You may be right, I do not know much about this topic, which is why I asked the question in the first place. Please remove the tag if you think that it is inappropriate. Also, I added the specific quote from the publishing company in the original post. May you please confirm me if I still do not need permission? Thank you
    – James
    Jun 19, 2019 at 10:36
  • I've updated my answer academia.stackexchange.com/a/132133/22768
    – user2768
    Jun 19, 2019 at 11:25

2 Answers 2


I plot the raw data together with mine

The plot is yours, the data is theirs.

If I publish this plot and properly cite their paper, do I need to ask them for permission?

No, the citation (and suitable explanation) suffices to attribute the data source. Indeed, as noted by the referenced source (under the heading Reuse of graphs/tables...):

...reuse of raw data does not generally need permission, provided you have plotted 
it into a different graph/table. You should however cite the source of the data.
  • Thank you. Do I really need to include an explanation of how I extracted the data from their figure?
    – James
    Jun 19, 2019 at 11:56
  • Some text has to introduce the citation. So, at the very least, something like, "using data from A et al. [X]."
    – user2768
    Jun 19, 2019 at 12:03
  • I see, thank you.
    – James
    Jun 19, 2019 at 12:06

In the United States, factual information such as data cannot be protected by copyright law. If the data is published, it is not a trade secret. So you may copy without permission. However, I suggest you ask for permission anyway, as a courtesy. The authors should be pleased to hear that you were interested in their data.

I am not a lawyer and this is not legal advice.

  • Thank you. Like I said, I have already tried to contact them, but they did not reply.
    – James
    Jun 19, 2019 at 11:17

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