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I've got a long policy/economics paper that will need to be split into two papers before any journal will be able to publish it. I can make them into freestanding pieces. But there will be significant overlap, particularly in the introduction, data description, and methods.

Is it frowned upon to have entire paragraphs be identical between two papers? Structure will be something like the following:

Introduction
    Para A1
    Para A2
Methods/Data
    Para B1
    Para B2

and for the other

    Introduction
        Para A3
        Para A2
    Methods/Data
        Para A3
        Para B2

In addition, some of the plots will probably appear in both papers. Will this be viewed as a problem?

  • Are you sure that you will need to split your paper? I do not know about your field but in mine there are several journals which have no upper limit on paper lengths. – Wrzlprmft Mar 20 '15 at 21:01
  • There are journals with long page limits, to be sure. But there are other reasons. One of the papers will be more policy-oriented, and the other will be less-so. – user32014 Mar 20 '15 at 21:42
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    Ah, so the papers are targeted at two different audiences? If yes, you should add that to the question. – Wrzlprmft Mar 20 '15 at 21:52
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Yes, it can be problematic if content is repeated verbatim in different sources, as it can be viewed as "self-plagiarism." The excellent Retraction Watch blog has an article that outlines the Committee on Publication Ethics's (COPE) views on the subject of when self-plagiarism merits retraction. In their proposal, the kind of reuse you're talking about could easily be considered plagiarism, even if it were cited as a quotation of the other paper.

The reuse of plots is also problematic—you'd need to make sure that reuse is allowed by the publisher of the article which appears (or which is accepted) first. If not, you can get yourself into trouble in that way as well. (Ultimately, this is how the fraud in the Jan-Hendrik Schön scandal was finally exposed.

| improve this answer | |
  • Thanks. This is a bit frustrating however -- the two papers would essentially branch from a common dataset, and a lot of basic diagnostic plots and summary statistics would be needed for both. – user32014 Mar 20 '15 at 22:52
  • Note that some journals will let you reuse figures in other journals with proper attribution. Check the author policies for the journals you want to submit to. – aeismail Mar 21 '15 at 0:21

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