I am finishing writing my master's thesis (~100 pages) and I also just submitted a paper (8 pages) to a conference. Since both are on the same subject and I am an author on both, is it ok if I reuse one page from the paper and put it in my thesis without many changes? The paper will not be published until 2013 (if at all). Is it necessary to cite it in any way?


4 Answers 4


Yes. It is certainly okay. Indeed, general practice when writing a PhD thesis is to produce a number of publications that add up to the thesis, whether directly (using staples) or by a good deal of massage. Some published material may be omitted and some additional material may be included. There's no reason why this shouldn't apply to a Master's thesis, too.

It is a good idea to cite the paper in the thesis (if the paper has been accepted for publication) and the thesis in the paper, if possible.

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    The recommended method for writing a Master's thesis in my department is to write a journal paper, slap the thesis boilerplate onto it, and add citations in both directions.
    – JeffE
    Jun 5, 2012 at 14:18
  • @JeffE: Does the journal paper need to be published? Jun 5, 2012 at 14:24
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    No, although it certainly makes life easier if it is. And even when the thesis work is published, it's often published only as a proceedings paper, with several details omitted; those missing details still appear in the thesis.
    – JeffE
    Jun 6, 2012 at 2:11
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    (-1) for the moment: We cannot be certain that it is OK as we don't know the examination regulations of the OP. It is common, yes, but it is not allowed everywhere. Jun 7, 2012 at 20:18
  • "citations in both directions" - it's circular reference and circular referencing will count the same as plagiarism in similarity analysis although not punished the same way. you should reference the former from the latter. Mar 13, 2017 at 17:52

Yes, this is very common. Indeed, theses are often verbatim copies of one or more published or submitted papers.

I would say you should cite the conference paper, listing it as "Submitted". You should also check with your university's thesis guidelines. It is very likely they will tell you how to cite work that is/will be published elsewhere.


While reusing material is typically done there are three concerns.

The first is citation. If it is in press or published at the time you submit the thesis, I would cite it. I wouldn't bother citing manuscripts that are in preparation/under review/in revision.

The second issue is copyright. Many journals and some universities require you to give up copyright control. Most make concessions, especially for articles, less so for book projects. You need to check and read the rules.

The third is being scoop. Putting your stuff in the public domain is important, but it also puts you are risk. Someone might independently build on your research publish your second chapter before you or conduct follow up research which reveals a huge hole in your research.

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    I have never heard of a university demanding the copyright to a student's thesis. Do you have an example?
    – JeffE
    Jun 5, 2012 at 14:19
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    Daniel, the rules you quote basically state that the only circumstances which the Institute will retain copyright privileges are ones where the student's research has been financially backed by the Institute, or where the student's research has taken place on equipment or facilities "under conditions that impose copyright restrictions." It hardly says that it is a requirement for the student to give up copyright control.
    – NominSim
    Jun 5, 2012 at 19:06
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    @NominSim: But "financially backed" appears to potentially include every case when the student is paid by the Institute, e.g. as a TA or research assistant, or by a graduate fellowship. In some fields this would include almost every student. I am skeptical that this is regularly enforced, though. Jun 5, 2012 at 20:17
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    @NominSim: Regardless of what one might expect, in my experience this is not the way things are actually done. Perhaps this would be fodder for a new question. Also, saying that in such a case the Institute is not "requiring" the student to give up copyright control is like saying a robber who demands "your money or your life" is not requiring you to give up your money. Jun 5, 2012 at 20:46

While many universities accept sandwitch theses, the only thing that can give you the right answer are the examination regulations you're subject to.

  • There are cases when parts of thesis work are not allowed to be published (in an article) though that can also create difficulties with the regulations.

  • Usually the university will want to get a paper out of the work in addition to the thesis. So the content being published is usually seen positive.

  • However, they may still not accept verbatim copy of large parts of the text but expect you to rewrite it so that your thesis is one "unbroken" piece of text written by you yourself.

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