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I am currently working on a research proposal and have come across a problem: This research proposal builds on a previous research proposal of mine. I am a historian and it deals with the same topic but for a different time period.

Now, that means that I feel I have to cover some of the same literature and background information that I have also covered in the past proposal. Specifically, particularly the first few paragraphs cover similar literature and background information as the previous proposal. I do not take anything over verbatim of course, but in terms of who I cite and what I say in the beginning (where I also make clear that this project builds on the past project) is pretty similar in terms of structure and content to the last proposal.

Now, my question is whether this is generally fine or not? The thing is I do not really know how to do it differently unless I wish to intentionally worsen the proposal by leaving out major parts of background information and literature.

Thanks!

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I don't see anything wrong with recycling some key portions of an older proposal into a new proposal - especially one that explicitly builds upon the older one. Logically you are going to have some overlap because it's a continuation of the same project. You already have done the work to compile relevant introductory material and so it seems a bit silly to look for other sources arbitrarily. You still need to expand the introduction to discuss the new elements of the proposal.

Copying and pasting sections is out of the question but you aren't intending to do that anyway. Using the same source/example/evidence twice is not problematic. You're building on your previous work, which includes the review of the literature you included in the intro.

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  • Would the same also go for reusing the structure of the proposal? And so that also means that if some of the parts of the old and new proposals read very similar that is fine as long as it is not verbatim the same? Jul 31, 2023 at 16:57
  • If by structure you literally mean the format of the proposal and the order of sections, I think the same goes for that too. I don't think you need to arbitrarily rearrange things just because it looks similar to an older proposal. Just make sure the sections that are similar (or ordered similarly) are relevant to the new proposal.
    – sErISaNo
    Jul 31, 2023 at 18:38
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... have to cover some of the same literature and background information that I have also covered in the past proposal

Refocusing or repurposing or covering part of previous literature and background is generally fine when it is essential for the research or proposal at hand.

What is improper though is to dump or regurgitate the old into the new.

... deals with the same topic but for a different time period

The different time period necessitate a different problem statement. Likewise, the literature, while rehashing or reusing previous literature, will speak to the new time period.

In-between, one doesn't (completely) discard ones publications when developing/submitting a new research/manuscript. Where they're related or has a degree of overlap, one builds on the former.

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  • Thanks. Could you elaborate what you mean by "What is improper though is to dump or regurgitate the old into the new"? Jul 27, 2023 at 11:02
  • Looks like you've got that covered ... "I do not take anything over verbatim of course, but in terms of who I cite and what I say in the beginning" Jul 27, 2023 at 12:16
  • Okay understood. But if I say essentially similar things but paraphrase differently or directly quote from literature (even if I did use the quotation in my old proposal as well) that should be fine, correct? Jul 27, 2023 at 15:00
  • sorry for bothering you again, but any advice on my follow up? Aug 13, 2023 at 20:03

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