I'm currently writing a journal article to be published, and the work from this article is basically the entire work of my Master's thesis.

Clearly a thesis is usually more involved and fleshed out than a journal article, but how much direct copying is usually permitted? Is it okay to directly copy-and-paste an entire chapter (or multiple chapters) of this article into my thesis, given that I wrote it anyway? At what point am I plagiarising myself?


3 Answers 3


Generally, many publishers and fields have rules against reuse of one's own text if that use is a (a) substantial; (b) not disclosed/attributed; (c) published.

How these terms are interpreted varies among publishers and disciplines. Most publishers would not consider a thesis or dissertation to be a "publication" for this purpose (hence the still widespread practice of converting dissertations into "book"). However, to avoid misunderstandings and keep definitively within the rules it is good practice to cite one's thesis, and to provide a brief summary of what content was reused and the extent it was updated, in the cover letter and in an introductory footnote.

  • 1
    This answer seems to refer to using parts of a thesis within a publication. The question (as I read it) was about the reverse.
    – Flyto
    Jan 2, 2016 at 20:12

You are in a unique position if you can literally copy-and-paste from your thesis directly to a journal article. If that is the case, take that opportunity and don't worry about self-plagiarism. The issue is whether your work has been previously published in some fashion. A thesis that has been submitted to a university is not considered a publication and, generally speaking, no copyright agreements have been signed. This is, indeed, your work. You are plagiarizing yourself when you publish an article and then lift text directly from that article. If your thesis has not been 'published,' then shape it into a journal article and send it off ...


In Computer Science, many publishers (well all of those I published with) have an automated system of requesting re-use permissions. For inclusion in a thesis, these tend to be 'as published' or 'post-review, but not typeset' which allows verbatim copies. Verbatim as in: insert the pdf from the journal into the thesis.

You should check for your field but might be pleasently surprised.

Please check with your advisor what he allows you to do.

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