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We published paper A before. Now, we are writing the camera-ready version of paper B, which is closely related to paper A. Therefore, we currently reused around 50% of the related work section from paper A. Would this be acceptable? Thanks!

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  • This is a strong indication that A and B should have been combined into a single paper. Jul 7 '16 at 17:00
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Short answer: No.

Medium answer: It can feel silly to find new phrasings for sentences or paragraphs that say essentially the same thing, but the alternative is unfortunately self-plagiarism. You can and should make a comment like "the following subsection is largely adapted from [other paper]", but even with that, the text should be different enough to not be considered a quotation. There is some wiggle room with technical definitions that can't be rephrased without a loss of clarity, but other than that, err on the side of rephrasing.

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  • I see. So basically any reused sentence from a previous paper without quotation or other indications should be considered as self-plagiarism, right? Thanks!
    – ZillGate
    Jul 6 '16 at 21:29
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    Most reputable publishers now run all submissions through plagiairism detection software that can easily detect the reuse of text like this. Publishers will typically refuse to publish a paper with substantial self-plagiarism of this sort because the material isn't original and also because they could subject to legal action from the publisher of the earlier paper for copyright violation. Jul 6 '16 at 22:53
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    This seems very silly. Rewording for its own sake does not add anything to the body of knowledge. It just makes it harder for a reader who is following a sequence of papers to recognize that this part of the paper is just like the paper I just finished reading, which would save time. Jul 7 '16 at 10:57
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    @ZillGate That's not always the case. In computer science, borrowing related work section from your own paper is fine. A large part of a related work section here is made up of sentences "These guys did this and that in this way" which is meant more to acknowledge the work rather than discuss it. I guess, this can be especially true for students, who know only a few related lines of research and not in depth.
    – Alexey B.
    Jul 7 '16 at 12:20
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Yes, ONLY if you acknowledge the past work! Feels silly to cite yourself but you have to....

I had a similar issue with my MSc. thesis, whereby it contained more than 50% of the work and even chunks of text from a previous report, book and paper. It was found acceptable by my supervisor and examiners (local (South Africa) and international) to have a statement at the end of my introduction like this:

"As such, this study set out to investigate the xxx and yyy . It forms a part of a larger study, namely, ABC (DEF study No: K5/xyc3) (Mynamehere et al., 2014)."

Because this study was an add on to the previous publications. In my objectives section I also stated:

"*This paper/report/dissertation forms a part of a larger study XXX (ABC study No: K5/xyc3). This paper/report/dissertation by Mynamehere et al. (2014) to includes: state main objectives of that report here This paper/report/dissertation expands on the knowledge presented in the ABC report K5.xyc3, focusing on xXX. The objective is divided into the following aims to.....*"

I did a similar thing for my second and third paper that came from the same work. This allowed me to rewrite ( with minor changes in style) chunks and paragraphs of written text across the different documents. If I used direct quotes or figures from my own results section only then ( but rarely) did I cite myself (over and above the statements above).

This was acceptable to the review boards of all three of may papers that are in local (South Africa) and international journals.

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