I am working on my PhD thesis and have to write a monograph based on my publications. To prevent that I plagiarize myself, I came up with the idea to automatically check my thesis against my publications.

Is there already a tool for this work-flow?

Input: PDf of thesis and a pile of PDFs;
Output: annotated PDF of thesis.

  • 5
    You should really read some of the questions and answers under the plagiarism tag. Self-plagiarism has different degrees in different fields. I don't think we should reopen this here. Also, there's appears to be a lot of disagreement about the "staple three papers together" style of dissertation, so watch out for that in responses here.
    – Bill Barth
    Commented Jul 21, 2014 at 16:45
  • 4
    @BillBarth is right. There are disagreements b/w the two issues. While ''stapling three papers together'' is made to look taboo, I belong to the school of thought which says that a thesis IS a report of what you did in your PhD, i.e. stuff covered in your publications etc. I think it is a meaningless hassle to keep rewording yourself to avoid issues with these stupid plagiarism checker softwares. The spirit of plugging plagiarism is getting abused with these. You may find this question to be somewhat useful. However, your aim is different here
    – 299792458
    Commented Jul 22, 2014 at 6:19
  • Of course there are different point of views an requirements on the issue in general, and I think a solution for this will be useful for other applications as well. If I find something useful, I post it ...
    – Dirk
    Commented Jul 25, 2014 at 11:32

3 Answers 3



  • Make sure you understand the standards of self-plagiarism relevant to your project.
  • Your institution's LMS likely provides access to an automated plagiarism checker you could use.
  • Automated plagiarism checkers are imperfect.
  • Some people think that commercial plagiarism checkers are unethical.

If you haven't already done so, talk to your dissertation committee about their understanding of self-plagiarism. What exactly are they concerned you might do? What are their standards, and are these standards reflective of common standards in your discipline?

Once you know how your committee understands self-plagiarism, talk to the people who administer the learning management system (LMS) at your campus. Many LMSs include access to commercial plagiarism checkers, and many of these services allow teachers or students to upload selected papers to the plagiarism checker's database. (The idea is that the plagiarism checkers allow teachers to check student work against unpublished papers that other students--like roommates or sorority sisters--have submitted in response to the same assignment in a different section of the course). If you put your publications into the plagiarism checker's database, you should be able to use the plagiarism checker to identify potential self-plagiarism.

HOWEVER, automated plagiarism checkers are imperfect. Whichever one you use, it will probably flag some stuff that isn't really plagiarism, and it might miss some stuff that is. The automated checker should supplement your own judgment, not replace it.

Finally, some people think that commercial plagiarism checkers are unethical because they collect papers and make money off of them without paying the authors. The courts have ruled that it's fair use, but you should at least know that the issue exists.


I don't know it will work for you or Not but you can compare your current thesis with any other previous thesis one by one by using plagiarism comparison tools. There are lot of tools available on internet here is an example Plagiarism comparison

You have to compare your current thesis one by one with older one. This is very effective tool..


Use Mendeley while doing your edit and make use of its robust functionalities which will prevent most plagiarism as it helps in annotations.

  • 3
    Is there an example of using Mendeley to detect self-plagiarism? Commented Jul 23, 2014 at 1:53
  • Please see their official website for tutorials, they have some good examples on how to gather papers and how it will handle annotations Commented Jul 23, 2014 at 3:27
  • 4
    So I guess you're talking more generally about how to take notes on articles to avoid self-plariarism rather than how to determine whether an existing document plagiarises. Commented Jul 23, 2014 at 3:41

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