It is known that re-using oneself idea in his/her published work without citing is considered self-plagiarism. In school, submitting an assignment which uses certain amount of works from a previously submitted assignment without mentioning it properly can be considered self-plagiarism. If one submits a research proposal which contains original research idea, and later proposed another proposal (let's say, for applying graduate school)containing significant parts of ideas from the previous one without mentioning it, can this be considered as self-plagiarism?

  • Plagiarism is mostly about written words in such situations. You should not copy-paste large chunk of texts from previous published material, but reusing ideas (especially if developed further) is common, and in certain forms necessarily. Imagine if you should write about something completely new, entirely different every single time you talk or write about your research. That would be incomprehensible. Ideas are continued, built upon, re-approached.
    – Greg
    Apr 12, 2021 at 14:23

1 Answer 1


Is re-using an idea from a research proposal considered as self-plagiarism?

No: You can re-use ideas from research proposals which you haven't executed upon, i.e., ideas that you haven't advanced (e.g., because the research proposal was rejected or that part of the proposal was never addressed or ...), they're still fresh ideas.

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    Even if you have executed an idea, if you realize part of the way through executing it that you need more money, what else are you going to write on the grant applications for it? It's not like you can use money earmarked for investigating idea B to investigate idea A.
    – nick012000
    Apr 12, 2021 at 12:43
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    @nick012000 what else are you going to write on the grant applications for it? Study A advanced our understanding to X, this new study will build upon those results to delivery Y. (Mentioning that you're uniquely qualified for the job, as the leader of Study A, probably helps.)
    – user2768
    Apr 12, 2021 at 13:05
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    I would add the following: key in calling something self-plagiarism is taking fresh credit for a novelty that is not really new because you already did it elsewhere (but claim it is new). That's precisely why it's not the case in the proposal (as @user2768 correctly says). Apr 12, 2021 at 13:30
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    @Captain Emacs So no matter how many times it has been drafted, proposed, or shared among a small group of peoples, if this is the first time that piece of idea gets published, or formally presented, it is considered by peers as new.
    – Alan Lao
    Apr 12, 2021 at 15:40
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    @AlanLao Well, the point is to check - what do you get credit for? You can not get credit twice for the same idea (unless you have a copyrighted piece of music/literature/etc. and then you do not get credit, but money). So, as long as you haven't claimed your credit (and there is no credit for a rejected proposal), you can reuse it. Otherwise, you have to cite, but that's fine, too. Apr 12, 2021 at 18:19

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