So, I came across this paper in my field (let's call it paper A) and there was a reference for an equation that they had borrowed from another paper (let's call this paper B). Everything well-cited and fine so far. While reading through paper B (the one that they referred to), I noticed that paper A had also copied over the conclusions!

Obviously, it is very common that 2 papers reach to the exact same conclusions, but shouldn't it have been rephrased somehow? I am talking about 3 bullet-points like: "Factor X is proven to be more significant than Y, where the results in tables 6,7 indicate method 1 describes interactions and square terms better than method 2".

Numbers and indices are different, but the words are EXACTLY the same. Is that allowed, am I just being paranoid?

=== Edit ===

To clarify, by "exact same conclusions" I meant to say that both papers study the effect of a set of independent variables on a response variable. Both follow the same methodology and conclude to something like "A affects the response variable Y the most. Using methodology Z proves that the experimental procedure is faster and more accurate than any other algorithm." and so on.

The conclusion is more sort of qualitative discussion of their results, more than quantifying "A affects the response 83%, whereas B only 4%". But this description of the quality of the methodology (which is not novel but well-known by the way) has been copied over word-by-word from paper A.

They have repeated the experimental procedure of paper A slightly modified (because of the different equipment used), so it is normal to report different numbers throughout the paper. My question is whether they should be allowed to use the exact same sentences in the conclusion to describe the very very similar results they came to.

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    "Obviously, it is very common that 2 papers reach to the exact same conclusions" This is not obvious to me: I have never seen two academic papers reach the exact same conclusions. "Numbers and indexes are different, but the words are EXACTLY the same." Wait, what? If the numbers and indices are different, then we certainly have not reached "the exact same conclusions." Please clarify. Are you just saying that they describe their different conclusions using very similar words? Commented Feb 27, 2017 at 13:39
  • Apologies for the confusion. Basically, you got it almost right in your last sentence. See if my edit helps out.
    – DimP
    Commented Feb 28, 2017 at 12:36
  • Are the two papers written by different authors, or is there a full/partly overlap? Whereas in that case it would still be plagiarism, I would not care too much as long as the copying is restricted to a sort of summary in a single sentence.
    – Mark
    Commented Sep 7, 2017 at 22:24

3 Answers 3


If the conclusions are written in exactly the same manner in both papers, and the conclusions themselves are sufficiently long that there is no way the repetition could be "innocent" (for instance, "X increases with temperature when Y is present" can only be said so many ways!), then plagiarism has occurred.

In such a case, you should report the situation to the journal in which the later paper appeared and indicate that you believe plagiarism has occurred.


Unfortunately, in my area, I have come across similar situations; where there was only slight change but wording and conclusions are same. I have seen this from the same author and different authors. I believe if the author is committing self-plagiarism, this divide-and-publish-many-papers attitude comes from the stress of getting tenure track or being productive within short time; and sometimes honestly it simply comes from the fact that authors think they can use their own work however they please without acknowledging previous study they make. In any case whether self or not, it is plagiarism, and should be avoided at all cost.

Plagiarism is only considered as copying or borrowing another person's work or words, but it actually expands beyond that. It may be stealing the idea and presenting as yours, it may be a total literary theft as far as I understood from your case.

Sometimes, the experiment conducted may be totally the same, or the earlier version may be taken as a baseline model or experiment to introduce and compare the earlier version to the new one. Through this method, the conclusion may be different and contradicting, or may be complementary to each other; and that's where the contribution to the field lies, in my opinion.

If the experiments are same to the smallest point with different equipment, and the conclusions are the same, but they were described by the exact same literary language and sentence flow, then it's a plain plagiarism.


Plagiarism in any form is never encouraged when writing a research paper, therefore it is true that the experiments were same but conclusion cannot be directly cited from any research paper and you are supposed to do your own analysis even if you are at the same conclusion it should be presented in your way

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