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I think you should either (i) change the wording in the second paper, or (ii) wait until the first is accepted for publication and then cite it with quotations. One reason to do (i) is that you may find that the same basic remarks need to be said in a different way or with different emphasis in the second paper. So it is worth saying it in a new way. One reason to do (ii) is that it gives you time to think about the issue, until the first paper is accepted.
Self-plagiarism is bad and it is punished. You would hate to do it, and then have your second paper retracted.


Another vote for 'rewrite'.


I've also rewritten to play it safe, it did feel silly, though - in particular what I've rewritten is my one-paragraph description of the methodology of an experiment that I think is particularly philosophically significant.


I'm a bit confused by the other responses. Is the standard for self-plagiarism such that "rewrite" but use the same idea is not still self-plagiarism?

If so, this deviates from how I understand plagiarism simpliciter where merely rewriting ideas you got from others would still be plagiarism.

Based on that standard isn't the important point to note that this argument also occurs in Surname forthcoming ?


Revisiting the case of Ezio Di Nucci, (Copenhagen) might be relevant here if only to illustrate the importance of this discussion. Some of Di Nucci's articles were retracted after he “had misunderstood the relevant practices” and reused material.



Don't famous philosophers plagiarize all the time? I certainly see it.


I meant self-plagiarize!


Similar problem here. I wrote paper A on a rather narrow issue, but while writing it I figured out that there was a narrower issue that I have now explored in paper B (close to completion and coauthored with a non-philosopher). there are no verbatim passages, but some of the evidence we consider in paper B is the same as the one I looked at in paper A.
for instance, a couple of footnotes refer the same texts and passages of the author we examine.


You should deal with your own publications like you do with publications of other scholars. Always cite accordingly. So if you wonder whether your practice counts as self-plagiarism, imagine that you are not the author the other paper but someone else is. You would not use the work of someone else without proper citation/quote in place, right?


My call is that what you are doing is fine in the case you described. I am not your ordinary philosopher - I claim to have some expertise on these issues (and there is some evidence that I do :) )


I agree that you should rewrite any shared text in paper B and even if paper A isn't published when you submit paper B, you can still cite it as an unpublished manuscript (I've done this in the past). However I would also explain the situation in the cover letter to the editor when you submit paper B. That way, the editor knows about paper A and can tell you if you need to do anything else.


Why is piecemeal self-plagiarizing supposed to be bad? The retraction watch article J links to above says it is “a problem that can lead to a copyright violation, perhaps, or an inflated amount of literature on the topic.” The former lends a prudential reason to avoid self-plagiarism in some specific circumstances. The latter is at best a very weak reason: lots of accepted practices lead to an inflated literature, and self-plagiarism might actually lead to less inflation, insofar as it is the most economical way to restate an idea. In any case, I see no grounds for a blanket norm against piecemeal self-plagiarism.


I discovered a case of this in print over a year ago. Paper A in Top Journal 1 is an *exact* copy of the first two sections of paper B in Top Journal 2. Paper A was published prior to, and even cites (!), paper B.

I contacted the editors of both journals about this. I heard back from one of them a couple months later saying they are investigating the issue with the author.

I don't know if anything has happened. At this moment both papers are still up on the journals' websites.


ehz: this is interesting, keep working on it! Maybe you can contact Michael Dougherty, who frequently sleuths out plagiarism?


JR: Thanks for the tip -- will do.

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