I have a manuscript in final stages of editing to submit it for publication, most likely to an ACS journal. My advisor would also like me to present this research in the upcoming ACS conference. I need to submit an abstract and they give the option of including a figure. I'd like to include my graphical abstract if this won't preclude submitting the same graphic later as part of the manuscript. So does a conference abstract count as "published"?

  • Would you later want to publish it as a stand-alone work or as a figure in another publication?
    – Buffy
    Jan 19, 2021 at 17:02
  • As a figure for the table of contents for the journal article, so in another publication
    – Molly
    Jan 19, 2021 at 17:32
  • In practice you can do a lot with your own figures. And it depends on how much of art and design is into it. Changing labels or replotting etc all are possibilities. One should see it to give an advice.
    – Alchimista
    Jan 20, 2021 at 11:06

1 Answer 1


There are several questions hidden within this one. The first is whether you retain copyright after the abstract appears. If not, and if the figure is fairly substantial (in the information conveyed and in design elements) then you may need to seek permission from the copyright holder to reuse it. And you will also, then, need to cite the abstract. This is the same as if you want to use a long quote from an article, yours or that of another. Short quotes and standard figures don't usually require permission, but do require citation. However, TOC isn't clear to me. I assume it is more that "Table of Contents".

If you do hold copyright then reusing it, with citation, is fine. But the citation is required to avoid the issue of self plagiarism.

However, if the figure is to be reused on its own as a complete work, not part of another paper, then publishers would probably consider it as already published and therefor not now innovative. I doubt that is what you intend, but note that it is up to the publisher to make determinations about such things.

My best guess, with limited information, is that you will be permitted to reuse it even if you don't hold copyright. But you will need to ask and you will need to cite. One can, of course, make reference to ones own work and even quote from it, but there are limits on how much you can use in copyrighted work.

  • Regarding the copyright question I found this language in the FAQs: "You and ACS agree that you and/or third parties with copyrights shall retain copyright in and to the abstract."
    – Molly
    Jan 19, 2021 at 17:43
  • Good. But publishers still have a voice in what they publish. I think you'll be fine.
    – Buffy
    Jan 19, 2021 at 17:59

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