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I have to write an (poster-) abstract for a conference in April. Back in November I already wrote an abstract for a similar conference. Since I have not gained many new results on the same research topic, I made some minor changes to the 'old' abstract and was thinking about submitting this 'reused' abstract for the conference in April.

Is that professional? Or is this even plagiarism, since I copied work that is already published (I am first-author of the 'old' and 'reused' abstract)?

I am not lazy, but the abstract that I wrote last year seems to be very good and I don't see the point in rephrasing it.

  • Perhaps it's different for fields where conferences have a different meaning to in mine, but my understanding is that the point of an abstract is to say briefly what will be in whatever it is the abstract of. If the content is the same then why should the abstract need to be different? It isn't (self-)plagiarism to talk about your work more than once, only to claim it as a new result more than once. – Jessica B Jan 4 '15 at 15:26
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Assuming you're talking about a one or two paragraph abstract, the question here is not really about the abstract per se but the contents of the poster. In my opinion, you don't need to worry about self-plagiarism per se from a brief poster abstract because it's not a real publication in the first place (if it were a 1+ page extended abstract, that would be a different matter).

Instead, the important question is whether your research community will find it acceptable to have you presenting essentially the same material in two different conferences. In many communities, this is OK, taking the view that it is essentially raising visibility of a result with different groups of people; in others communities, however, it may not be viewed as acceptable. Consult with your supervisor to see what the standard is for your community.

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You might want to check the policies of your conference. Some conferences ask that all submitted abstracts/posters be original or unpublished. Since you have already presented the abstract at a previous conference, this would prevent you from submitting the same abstract again without considerable changes being made (i.e., a new analysis, etc.). Then again, some conferences would be ok with you submitting the same abstract. I think the best course of action is to be honest with the organizers and ask whether such a submission is acceptable.

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