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I find myself in a complex situation involving citations between a published paper and the thesis from which it originated. Here are the key details:

I submitted my thesis for examination and, during the 8-month review period, published a paper based on one of its chapters. The paper was also accepted and published. After submitting my thesis, I joined a new institution, which is the affiliation listed in the published paper. Given this backdrop, I have two primary questions:

I passed the thesis examination recently and I am now in the final phase of revising the thesis. The paper was published two months ago. Should I revise the paper (by sending a request to the editor) to cite my thesis, or should the thesis cite the paper? How should I handle the affiliation discrepancy? If the thesis cites the paper, it may appear as if the majority of the research was conducted at the new institution rather than the original university. I'm concerned about how to ethically and accurately represent the relationship between the paper and the thesis, particularly considering the change in affiliation.

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  • Why would you need to cite the thesis or the other way around? Aug 24, 2023 at 9:18
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    I don't know... that's why I'm asking. I feel like maybe one should cite the other since one was published first. Or is it totally okay if I do nothing? I'm concerned about potential criticisms regarding self-plagiarism or something else. Of course, if I don't need to do anything then it would be best for me.
    – hidemyname
    Aug 24, 2023 at 9:22
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    "I wish I didn't cite that paper" isn't something that comes up often at the academic water cooler. Aug 24, 2023 at 11:57
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    @clearseplex because otherwise the "self-plagiarism police" will quickly come and accuse you of an unacceptable crime that will never hurt anyone...
    – wimi
    Aug 26, 2023 at 16:39

6 Answers 6

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I have often found such a situation in PhD theses, as the papers were published during the PhD time and predate the PhD.

There is in such cases a section in the first part of the text, near the table of contents, list of figures, or acknowledgments.

Some results from this PhD thesis have been published in journal articles ... List of references, with a full citation.

I have not seen, however, the reverse citation that you propose in which one would cite their own PhD thesis in a scientific article with the published results.

My suggestion is thus:

  1. Leave the published paper as is
  2. Cite it explicitly in your PhD thesis as resulting from the thesis work. You can even be more specific (i.e. "during the revision period of the PhD thesis, some results of chapter 32 have been published as Ref. [8147]")

Regarding the affiliation, one practice would have been to list your PhD affiliation with the current one. In many papers I have seen it as a footnote though ("1. This work has been carried out while author XYZ was completing his PhD thesis at Institution ABC"). If you are worried about this, I would discuss it with your PhD advisor though.

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  • One exception (a journal article’s citing a dissertation) is illustrated by my own example. A paper I published with my (former) advisor was based largely on one section of my dissertation. We cited the dissertation to avoid appearing to be trying to sneak two publications out of one slug of work. It also allowed us to omit some of the less exciting details and simply point any readers masochistic enough to wish to see them to the dissertation. Aug 25, 2023 at 23:20
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I think you are too scrupulous.

At least in Comp Science and I assume in many other fields as wide apart as Theology, the first publications at your first institution after graduation will be usually based on the thesis. Similarly, if you were to change institutions, then your first publications at the new institution will be most likely based on ideas you developed at your previous institutions. Thus, your official affiliation is not assumed to be identical to the place where you did most of the work.

Changing citations after publications is very, very tedious. Do you want to have print versions recalled and replaced? Do you want the online and the print version be different? So, besides other reasons, there is no way that this is going to be a good idea.

There is no real need to cite your paper in the thesis, but if it makes you feel better, just say something in the introduction about parts of the thesis already being published. Different academic traditions feel differently about publishing the thesis before submitting it, so your location will determine whether this is a good idea. In the US, however, Ph.D. committees might want to see prior publications or even require it.

My main point is that affiliation is not equated with the place where most of the work was done. This idea might come from the tradition to thank the host institution in publications after a sabbatical leave for publications that were worked on during that leave.

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If you publish the same contents in different places / different forms, it is good to clarify how they relate to each other and which one was first. In your thesis, you should clarify that work done for the thesis has meanwhile appeared elsewhere (as people have advised above). But it is also ok to advertise your thesis in the paper, perhaps as the longer version or the larger context in which it is embeddd.

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I'd say in a footnote in the title page of the chapter: "A version of this work is published as ...".

No need to cite the thesis in the paper.

In my experience, paid positions have requirements to list affiliations in anything published while you work there. PhD programs don't typically.

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I think that total transparency is best for everyone here--it makes it clear to readers what content overlap there is between the theses and the papers. Th introduction to my thesis had a section that basically looked like:

  • Chapter 2: Show X result. Originally published in (citation)
  • Chapter 3: Show Y result. Originally published in (citation) and (citation)
  • Chapter 4: Demonstrate principle Z. Originally published in (citation), except for the section showing [some other thing].

...

and so on.

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In my opinion, your affiliation in the paper is not an issue and does not affect the evaluation of your thesis; but I do not want to advise on this matter because I do not know the rules of your PhD program. However, I know for certain that no indexed journal would accept a PhD dissertation in their reference list... therefore, you have no option, but leave things as they are. For the future, you may consider publishing with a double affiliation.

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