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!

  • This is a strong indication that A and B should have been combined into a single paper. Jul 7, 2016 at 17:00

2 Answers 2


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.

  • 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, 2016 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, 2016 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, 2016 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, 2016 at 12:20

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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