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I'm currently in the middle of some calculations and modeling for two related but different papers on experimental and data analysis mathematical techniques, and have started drafting two papers.

Depending on how they fill out over the next few months they may or may not be best suited for the same journal.

Each paper and its readers will be best served if it references the other, and this may be in fact necessary to avoid having to have duplicate sections and trying to do extra work to make sure they are also sufficiently different that they are not copy/pastes of each other (i.e. avoidance of self-plagiarism?1).

The topics are sufficiently divergent that they really can not be combined into a single paper without it looking like two papers hastily duct-taped together.

Question: What are the ins and outs of submitting two related papers that need to cite each other to the same or different journals? Any potential pitfalls I should keep in mind?


1 Using same text in different papers sent same time? See also "Is there any reason why your papers can't cross-cite each other?" and "You can actually cross-cite papers that are 'work in progress', especially in initial submissions."

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  • "two related papers that need to cite each other" That's not how citations (are supposed to) work.
    – user9482
    Oct 7, 2022 at 6:37
  • @Kimball I've already made it clear in the question that these may be submitted to different journals; voting to close and prevent answers moves to disallow anyone from comparing the two cases.
    – uhoh
    Oct 7, 2022 at 7:35
  • @Roland citations are supposed to work for the papers and for their readers, the way the papers are written shouldn't be subservient to the citations. While I agree the situation I've described is atypical, I have to question how "supposed to work" is defined.
    – uhoh
    Oct 7, 2022 at 7:38
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    Maybe your field is different, but in mine this is not so uncommon, and I think the main points to keep in mind are already addressed in the two linked questions. If there is something else you're looking for, please clarify. One issue I see is that your question is a bit open ended (are you asking about the submisison process? writing process? how to decide whether to submit them to the same venue)
    – Kimball
    Oct 7, 2022 at 13:02
  • @Kimball yes I see what you mean on all counts. I'll give it some thought, thanks!
    – uhoh
    Oct 7, 2022 at 16:00

1 Answer 1

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Conferences and journals want contributions that are reasonably self-contained. This means, some duplicate paragraphs might be needed. You need to then cite the paper containing the duplicates, even if the duplicates are not exact. You might want to explain the other work, referring to it as under submission. There is nothing wrong with an introduction that explains (among all the other things that an introduction needs to explain) that the same model can be used for two very different applications.

It is hard and somewhat unfair to cite something that reviewers (and later readers) cannot access and that also might not be published at all or only appear after a long delay. Think about publishing a Technical Report or a preprint first for both articles, so that you can refer to the other one that way. If you are lucky, you might then update the mutual citation in both.

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  • This is a very helpful answer! Starting with "reasonably self-contained" in mind for the benefit of the reviewers (as well as future readers) from the start makes it a lot easier to implement. There will be a software aspect and likely a Github link, that may serve the role of technical report if we don't opt for preprints.
    – uhoh
    Oct 7, 2022 at 7:54

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