I have a published journal article and a book chapter (both are single-authored). I am in the process of getting permission from the publishers respectively to make the most of them for my PhD dissertation.

Well, my question is about what actions are okay as 're-use.' I asked these questions to a publisher once, but I have heard only very abstract answer (like, [...] a journal gives permission to 'reuse' and 'reproduce' to [...]).

  1. Is it normal and okay to use only a certain part of the published article/book chapter? (For example, exclude introduction and use only the analysis results).

  2. Considering the overall flow of the PhD dissertation, I have theoretical discussion (Chapter 2) and analytical results (Chapter 6) far apart from each other. In the published paper, as you can imagine, one come right after the other. In this case, is it okay to split the published paper and put the parts in Chapter 2 and Chapter 6 separately?

  • 2
    Ask your advisor. He/she will tell you what is acceptable for your dissertation. It may vary by university and by subject matter, so I do not expect an answer here.
    – GEdgar
    Dec 17, 2020 at 11:57

2 Answers 2


If these published papers were part of your dissertation research, I don't see how there would be an issue. For example, at my University we were expected to submit and publish three papers for our dissertation. We then wrapped those papers into a single document, added an introduction chapter and conclusion chapter. My dissertation document was then published on the university website.

In my case I made sure that I did not use the publisher formatted final version of the papers. With the publishers I used, permission was not required for including in a thesis or dissertation. For example, I published some of my papers in IEEE journals. IEEE has a button on their site for each paper that you can click to get copyright permissions. It has a drop down that says "thesis/dissertation". All that they require if you are the first author is to include a copyright message to IEEE in your dissertation. Of course, the practice may be different in other journals, as the licenses will vary too.

I also made the choice to only publish my dissertation in the university's open access library repository as required by the university, and not in proquest's subscription repository of dissertations as that could result in monetization of another publisher's work.

In this example I gave, self-plagiarism does not apply because 1) you would be sure to acknowledge at each chapter's beginning that this is an already-published work, 2) the dissertation is a university requirement for graduation. Nowadays, many people are publishing their chapters separately and you are required to collate them into a single document for graduation. It wouldn't make sense to me to have to write an entirely new document to report the same findings in a more wordier manner. That would be a waste of time.


You have three concerns here.

First is what the university and your advisor will permit as valid for a dissertation. Your advisor is a good source for this.

Second is copyright. I suspect that you no longer own all of the rights to your work if it is published. One normally yields most rights to the publisher. What you can reuse is up to them, but many will be generous in this regard. But you probably need something in writing.

Third, and maybe most important, is the danger of self-plagiarism. This is governed by custom, not by laws, but your reputation depends on getting it right. The normal way to avoid self plagiarism is to treat your own early published work the same way you would treat the work of any other researcher. Quote from the early work and give proper citations. Just copying (without quoting) is what gets you in trouble here.

The reason for avoiding self plagiarism is a bit different from ordinary plagiarism. When someone reads a scientific or other scholarly work, it is often necessary to put the work in context. Researchers want the complete context of a work including whatever references and citations and background the earlier work implies. If you just copy without citation, then the context is denied unless, as in the case of a "stapled dissertation", the new work is just a collection of earlier papers.

There is one benefit here in your situation. You will probably, with the consent of your publisher and your advisor, be able to quote more extensively from your own work than would be permitted if you were quoting the work of another. Then it becomes a matter of presentation and formatting, making it clear what is old and what is new.

You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .