I'm in the process of revising my MA thesis for a publication. I am not clear whether I can just copy and paste information from my thesis and do minimal revisions, or I should paraphrase my thesis to a large extent so as to avoid self-plagiarism.

Any feedback would be appreciated!


Paraphrasing something that would otherwise be plagiarism does not stop it from being plagiarism. Similarly, trying to get the same thing published twice is a problem, whether or not it uses the same language.

However, at least in the UK it is normally fine for ideas that are in a MSc or PhD thesis to also appear in a journal article. I would not worry about using the same words, when it's appropriate to do so.

If you want to be sure, you could write to the editor of your intended journal to check. Either way, it would be wise to mention the situation in the cover letter when you submit your article, just in case they run it through a "plagiarism detector".


If your thesis hasn't been "published" in any form then you can just consider the publication as a new version and revise it as you like. It would be good, however, to note somewhere that it is derived from your thesis. The new publication will be the "first" publication.

But if you or the university has published it, then you are normally better off citing it in the publication rather than just copy/paste. However, since the work is yours, you can also quote longer parts of the original (with citation) than you would do with the work of another.

  • Thank you! My thesis is not published yet. It's all done, I've submitted it to school. After I defend my thesis, I need to upload it to the library website.
    – user96976
    Jul 30 '19 at 14:34
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    You should probably ask locally whether they consider that a "publication". They can probably give you general advice on this also. Maybe talk to the librarian.
    – Buffy
    Jul 30 '19 at 14:38
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    If a journal or publisher considers a MSc thesis a publication, I'd rather avoid that journal or publisher.
    – Uwe
    Jul 30 '19 at 21:47
  • In the UK, in some disciplines, it is quite common for PhD theses to be published as books without it being stated anywhere that the book began life as a thesis. That is usually quite obvious to an experienced reader, anyway. There is no nonsense about that being self-plagiarism, because the defining element of plagiarism, namely an intention to mislead, is obviously absent. I would be very surprised to see a thesis for a master's degree being published, good luck to you if yours is, but in the UK at least you should not worry.
    – JeremyC
    Jul 31 '19 at 22:07

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