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Is it considered inappropriate to write in a manuscript "this problem remains unsolved, though arguably progress has been made" and then reference your own work?

Because you would be saying that your own work is the only progress being made on a subject... Is not it too arrogant?

The phrase is already written with another bibliographical reference. My question is just about whether I should replace and older reference with my own new work, which I of course think advances towards a solution.

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    Why should it be inappropriate? Apr 1, 2020 at 14:46
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    This is hard to answer without more context. Especially as a yes/no question. Say more about your real concerns. And this isn't a polling site.
    – Buffy
    Apr 1, 2020 at 15:24
  • Because you would be saying that your own work is the only progress being made on a subject... Is not it too arrogant? Apr 1, 2020 at 15:24
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    @Philosopherofscience If that is your main concern, why wouldn't you simply cite additional works by other authors who have also worked on the problem?
    – Anyon
    Apr 1, 2020 at 15:54
  • Ok, I will do that. Apr 1, 2020 at 16:32

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I don't think I'd call it inappropriate, exactly, but I don't think it is the best way to word it.

Your use of the word "arguably" signals that the phrase "progress has been made" is subjective - and in particular, it's a subjective opinion coming from a source that is clearly not impartial (you). Also, "progress has been made" is vague and not very helpful to the reader by itself - you're forcing them to go and look up your other paper if they want to know what kind of progress you mean.

So why not solve both problems, and replace this unhelpful subjective statement by a helpful objective one, that briefly describes what you actually did:

This problem is unsolved. However, in previous work [14], we showed that in the special case where the graph is symmetric, the conjectured statement is true to within a factor of 20.

Of course, if there is relevant work by other researchers, you should cite their work here as well, with a similar brief discussion.

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  • That's a great answer! The suggested phrasing is perfect. Apr 1, 2020 at 20:51

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