There is a well known book "Scientific topic X. Philosophical reflections." It contains a collection of articles on the topic. I am writing a paper myself. To what extent is it allowed to use the same title?

I am not stealing or borrowing the title because it is particularly original, it just concisely summarizes the goal and content of my paper (without redundancy). I also came up with about 10 alternatives, but I like this one still more.

I suppose it is ok, after all - there can be only so many permutations of words for a particular topic/approach, e.g. "Introduction to philosophy of science, Basic course in Calculus, etc."

What are the academic standards on this issue?

  • 1
    Would Cultivation of Potatoes: Philosophical Reflections be the tuber equivalent to your proposed title? Because that's not plagiarism.
    – Compass
    Oct 23 '14 at 19:00
  • 6
    I suggest you think of a more useful title. Oct 23 '14 at 19:08
  • 2
    Why not take this as an opportunity to practice a little originality? Oct 23 '14 at 19:30
  • 1
    I'm with @Dave Clarke. Moreover, I'm skeptical that "Philosophical Reflections" cannot be improved, particularly for a scientific topic.
    – J.R.
    Oct 23 '14 at 19:47
  • 4
    Why not: Philosophical Reflections on Potato Cultivation. Even with the same five words, there are multiple combinations. Potatoes: A Philosophical Reflection on Cultivation
    – RoboKaren
    Oct 24 '14 at 4:42

There are no official policies on things not being allowed to have the same name.

It doesn't seem to be a legal problem: How many books are called Algebra? and how many songs are called I love you? How many companies have been called Smith and sons?)

It is not a technical problem since title is not the most relevant citation information

Is it an ethical problem? I don't think so.

Still, if the other book is well known, it can lead to confusion and people can think that you are a bit bizzare to reuse the title. I wouldn't do it.

  • thanks for the answer (unfortunately I cannot upvote, since I don't have enough credits) Oct 23 '14 at 22:27

I published a book with a title that had never been used. I research every title that I want before using it. Then, 5 months later, a writer on the New York Times Best Seller List came out with his book using that same title.

If that writer did his research, he knew that the same title was used just 5 months earlier and should have used another title for his book.

Of course, being a Best Seller, his book always comes up when someone searches for that title. If someone searches for my book, they get his.

I don't particularly appreciate it, but as mentioned, it is legal unless copywrites apply.

Just felt like getting it off my chest. My book is better, by the way!

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