The question is in the title, really. It is similar to other questions, such as: How much information should I divulge about on-going unpublished research at a conference?

However, I am wondering if publishing an internal (i.e. non refereed, etc.) technical report actually protects me from any plagiarism if I should encounter one.

I know people sometimes publish in arxiv for this purpose, but I have two concerns: a. it is not customary for me to do that, and b. I am not sure it is considered 'unpublished' for the sake of publishing in a refereed journal later.

What do you think?


  • Hello! What is your field of study? – yo' Nov 12 '14 at 11:12
  • Computer sciences. – yoki Nov 12 '14 at 12:29
  • 2
    Any sensible journal allows a preprint on arxiv. Conversely, if the journal does not allow a preprint on the arxiv, then it is not sensible and you do not want to publish there. – Sasho Nikolov Nov 12 '14 at 22:03

If you main concern is plagiarism, then any mechanism for creating a persistent, externally accessible, date-stamped copy of your work will clearly establish priority: arXiv and institution-specific technical memos each work just as well for this purpose. When I was a graduate student at MIT, I used to use the CSAIL Technical Report series in exactly the way that you describe. In computer science, at least, most publication venues seem to have no problem with this type of 'prior publication,' although it is not the same for other fields.

Note, however, that this will not actually stop you from being plagiarized, and may actually increase the chance, since it's another copy of your words out there online. It will, however, make it clear that they are your words and not those of the plagiarist.

  • So long as someone properly cites my tech. rep., I don't really mind (that is, I do mind because they may render my research useless, but that is academia...). – yoki Nov 12 '14 at 14:36

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