I am writing an article in which I need to reproduce a section of my previous paper. This section includes standard math formulations and very little text. Although I am including this section with some minor changes but overall structure of section would be same. I will include proper citation but still I am worried if this could be a case of self plagiarism ?

The Journal in which I want to submit my work have following clause on copyrights/permission:

Authors wishing to include figures, tables, or text passages that have already been published elsewhere are required to obtain permission from the copyright owner(s) for both the print and online format and to include evidence that such permission has been granted when submitting their papers. Any material received without such evidence will be assumed to originate from the authors.

The journal in which my article has been published says like this on copyrights/permission :

Subscribers may reproduce tables of contents or prepare lists of articles including abstracts for internal circulation within their institutions. Permission of the Publisher is required for resale or distribution outside the institution and for all other derivative works, including compilations and translations. If excerpts from other copyrighted works are included, the author(s) must obtain written permission from the copyright owners and credit the source(s) in the article. Elsevier has preprinted forms for use by authors in these cases.

As an author you (or your employer or institution) have certain rights to reuse your work. More information.. One more thing that this journal says on permission:

As a general rule, written permission must be obtained from the rightsholder in order to re-use any copyrighted material. Typically the rightsholder of published material is the publisher unless it is explicitly indicated otherwise. Copyrighted material can include figures, illustrations, charts, tables, photographs, and text excerpts. Re-use of any borrowed material must be properly acknowledged, even if it is determined that written permission is not necessary.

PS. My research field is Mathematics.

  • 4
    Plagiarism is doing it without citation. So this is not plagiarism. But it may be some other violation of the rules of that journal --- why not ask them?
    – GEdgar
    Jul 22, 2016 at 16:38
  • 2
    Plagiarism is taking ideas of someone else and pass them as your own. In a way self-plagiarism is an oxymoron; it's yours and you cannot steal ideas from yourself. What's potentially troublesome here is the copyright of your first paper. You'd need to check with that publisher to make sure you have the clear to copy a part verbatim. Jul 22, 2016 at 17:06
  • Concept of self-plagiarism is an area that is evolving. Twenty years ago, I would have wondered why it matters. These days I've become more sensitized and agree very much with a variety of arguments. Yes, this sounds like self-plagiarism and you will need to deal with it.
    – Carol
    Jul 23, 2016 at 0:14
  • 1
    Physical sciences does not 'quote' text, so putting quotes around a whole section would be beyond the pale, so that leaves that out. Different fields will have different standards. Some sections (methods) don't get a lot of scrutiny as long as some attempt is made (as there aren't a lot of ways to say (X measured Y) so most people are sympathetic! It very much depends on field. If you add more information about your field and subfield - that likely will help you get a better answer.
    – Carol
    Jul 23, 2016 at 0:18
  • 1
    There are a variety of questions answered on self-plagiarism, what would make this different (I think) would be focusing on subfield, and more information about 'section'. (if there happen to be standard sections in your area as there are in say, experimental physics).
    – Carol
    Jul 23, 2016 at 0:23

2 Answers 2


Technically, it is not self-plagiarism if you were to cite the relevant material, even if it's your own. It would be advisable if to rephrase the section. If considerable amount of detail is repeated from thee pervious paper, it would be better to have consent from your publisher before hand.

I notice this many times among authors. Those who make a minor improvement over their own research tend to have major portions of their old papers rephrased (some even repeated, but again, that's not encouraged). As long the overall concept is novel this won't be a problem.


The legal issue regarding copyright is what concerns me. You need to investigate that. I don't think self-plagiarism is possible. Could there be partial-plagiarism if your past work involved a partner?

  • In the both articles the authors are same, me and my supervisor. I have consulted my supervisor but he too is not sure.
    – IgotiT
    Jul 23, 2016 at 2:53

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