I am currently writing the introduction to my PhD thesis and have one specific doubt about how to include or cite a review article that I have published with jointly with my supervisors.

In my opinion, a review article and the thesis introduction are quite similar - they review a specific field for fellow researchers. It's very difficult to make a summary of a review, given that it is already quite densely written. What would be the best manner to include my own text from the review in my thesis?

  • Paste the review paper it as introduction chapter (with journal layout) ?
  • Mention that this introductory chapter has verbatim extracts from my review and cut and paste the most important parts ?
  • Summing up and rewording large parts of the review paper and avoid self-plagiarism?

Generally, my university allows to include my papers that are already published in the thesis, but the guidelines do not elaborate much more as I guess everybody assumes that research papers are pasted as result chapters. I have talked with several people (including PI, secretaries). I'd just like to consult the opinion of people outside my everyday universe. I am curious on what you have to say, thanks.

  • 3
    What is allowed depends entirely on your university regulations and the restrictions of the venue in which your article was published.
    – aeismail
    Jul 26, 2014 at 11:39
  • 1
    Stack Exchange sites are question-and-answer sites, not discussion forums. What we prefer is irrelevant in your context.
    – aeismail
    Jul 26, 2014 at 16:51

4 Answers 4


Generally speaking, the academic community does not consider it to be self-plagiarism to use your own previously published writings as part of your thesis, provided appropriate references are given. You can summarize or reword if you wish, but it is not necessary for ethical purposes.

Whether your institution, or the journal where you published your article, will allow this is a question that only they can answer.


I would add the whole review into your thesis. Directly into the introduction, but it depends on your country or field specifics, too. You shouldn´t of course only paste it, but make for example an empty page where you will write only the bibliographical informations and than paste your review like an "offprint". So anybody who will read your thesis will note that there is some "special" chapter, allready published.

Another possibility is to mention it in the introduction, maybe paste the abstract into and add your review as a supplementary material at the end of your thesis. If somebody is interested in it, than he will find it at the end of your thesis and you don´t have to rewrite and rephrase it. You already done that work (I mean the introduction into your field) and the prove is that it was published!

And do not forget to mention the "amount" of authorship, in percentage or with list of chapter of that review written by you.


I suggest that you implement Option 2, but with some modifications.

Prior to the review sections of the Introduction chapter, you should include a sentence like this:

The material in Sections X through Y of this Introduction draws heavily on the author's previously published literature review (citation).

Then, when you add the material from your literature review, do not simply copy-and-paste. Instead, you should modify or add text to relate this literature to your thesis, to your methods, to your decisions about scope and approach, and so on. Tell the reader in every sentence and every paragraph why this part of the literature is or is not important to your dissertation.

With this approach you avoid any problems of self-plaguarism because you give full citation at the start, plus you aren't doing simple copy-and-paste.


As others said, schools usually do not mind students to include their own articles, including reviews in their thesis. After all, they do not want to discourage students from publishing. Many universities these days allow students to just put their exact published papers as different thesis chapters and add a bit to intro and conclusions chapters to show how the papers are connected. My school specifically was fine with doing that and it was what I did. The problem I faced was my review paper was copy-righted and the publisher did not give me the permission to make it public in my thesis (something to keep in mind and put as a condition when submitting papers (for students) that is keeping the right to put their work in their thesis). Long story short, my school had a solution that was, I copied and pasted my review paper as intro (of course citing it) when I was about to send my thesis to my examiners. After my thesis was accepted the school allowed me to remove the bulk of intro, include a few short paragraphs to summarize it and mention one must check the full text in the journal.

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