I am currently writing my bachelor thesis and since my results were really good, my advisors encouraged me to write a paper about it. The paper was accepted at an international conference and will get published and in the corresponding journal.

I've really invested much time in the paper and the results, thus my thesis fell a bit short. Additionally the topics are identical, because I wrote about the results that I achieved during my work for my thesis. Therefore it is really hard to write a "completely different" text in the thesis compared to the paper.

Moreover the deadline of my thesis ends in 3 weeks...thus, my second advisor suggested to mostly copy+paste stuff of my paper, because it is good and was reviewed several times.

However, my second advisor is always relaxed and calm. I haven't talked to my first advisor about this so far...but I suspect that he would not be too happy if I copy & paste large parts.

What is the "standard" in academia for comparable situations? Would you feel OK with copying certain parts of your paper?

Any advice would be great and really appreciated.

  • 3
    Can you simply submit the Conference paper, as is as your Bachelor Thesis? My institution changed a rule to allow that recently. Not Copy paste sections, but the whole thing, with the statement "This work, as is, will appear in X, in 2016" Commented Jun 17, 2016 at 10:35
  • 1
    Could you indicate some more context such as your approximate field, please? I'm asking because the "standard" you are referring to might vary considerably; for instance the solution suggested by @Oxinabox is pretty much unthinkable in the part of academia I'm most familiar with, as conference papers are usually limited to some 8 to 10 pages there, whereas Bachelor theses typically cover at the very least 60 pages. Commented Jun 18, 2016 at 11:08
  • I'm writing my bachelor thesis in a specialized STEM-field at a department with quite some reputation at a big university in Europe. Students here are encouraged to write research-based theses rather than writing "something that gets you the graduation". While I do not have a specific page limit (neither minimum nor maximum) most bachelor theses here are in a range of 40 to 120 pages.
    – daniel451
    Commented Jun 18, 2016 at 15:28

3 Answers 3


When it comes to copy and paste, I'd certainly have a bad feeling. Paraphrasing/rewriting is the least you can do. In general, citing own publications is common practice. Citing your own publication in your bachelor thesis is therefore, in my opinion, completely okay.

Since the research published in your paper is actually part of your thesis, everything should be fine. But in your thesis you should be able to give even more detail than in a conference paper. That way you can reference your paper, showing that you published successfully, and then show your findings to a bigger extent.

Good luck with your thesis!

Edit: Almost forgot about your first advisor: Talk to him/her! There is no reason to feel bad for asking. Ask your second advisor for advice on how to talk to your first advisor.

  • 1
    If it's the same person describing the same work, and it's all their own work, I don't see a problem with copy/paste (with adaptations as necessary). Why waste one's time rewriting perfectly good prose? There are certainly paragraphs of my PhD thesis that are identical to paragraphs of the corresponding papers, and everybody involved was fine with that. But obviously this depends on the regulations of the institution in question.
    – Flyto
    Commented Aug 9, 2018 at 11:13
  • @Flyto It does come down on regulations and personal taste. Personally, I would just not feel good copy/pasting passages from my publications. However, in some instutions this might be perfectly normal. One should definitely look around how colleagues did it in the past.
    – Ian
    Commented Aug 9, 2018 at 11:43

Where I come from it is common for chapters of a PhD thesis to have a lot in common with published papers by the same author - maybe even with copy/pasted sections. The declaration for the thesis is "it's all my own work, and it hasn't previously been submitted for a degree"; there's no requirement that it hasn't been published in a journal.

It's not common for undergraduate dissertations, but that may simply be because it isn't common for undergraduates to publish in the academic literature. In my view the fact that you have done work that is good enough to be published should be a positive thing, not an additional problem for you.

However, whether this is allowed will very much depend on the policies of your universtiy - so definitely talk to your primary advisor about it. Assuming it's allowed then you should note clearly, perhaps in the introduction, that the same work has been / is going to be published in $journal, with a citation. This looks good for you, and also provides an explanation if the thesis gets a red flag from automated plagarism detection software.


If your earlier work has been published, then cite it as you would any other work. However, if it has not been published, even by your university, then the rules don't need to be as strict. You could possibly just consider your undergraduate thesis as a "draft" of the publication, in which case there is no need to cite. However, it might be better to cite it, and you should mention somewhere that the work is "derived from" your thesis.

Doctoral theses, on the other hand are regularly published by universities through Proquest, which used to be University Microfilms. I don't know if all dissertations wind up there, but in some fields, they do.

If a prior publication exists, cite it. You can quote or paraphrase as you would any other work, but give a proper citation.

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