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I treat my own papers like I do others - if it is relevant to my argument, I cite it. And I usually adhere to the only citing published material, though with a caveat. I have one paper that is to appear in an anthology that has, for a variety of reasons, been delayed substantially in publication. Several papers that I have published since rely upon arguments from that first paper. I don't have the space to recreate the arguments in the subsequent papers, and so I cite the original, not yet published one.


Here's my problem: I want to publish a paper that uses certain theorems that I proved in my thesis. Can I cite my thesis? I might (try to) publish the proofs later in a more specialized journal, but not before the paper that uses these proofs.

Marcus Arvan

Foma: I've been in a similar position before, not with respect to a formal proof but with respect to stuff that I argued in my dissertation. Here's my short answer: I think you should publish the proofs first, then try to publish the paper that uses them. You can always *try* what you are saying, but I suspect that you may not get very far trying to publish a paper based upon thesis material that hasn't been published.

Overseas Tenured

I cite my own work quite a bit in places where it's not irrelevant, but not indispensable either. I'm not famous and would have little to gain by being identified; rather, I want interested readers to give pointers about my related work on the same topic.

But the thing is, I also cite plenty of other work that is in my view completely irrelevant, simply because it's in the same broad topic, and its author is famous and has a good chance of being my referee. So, I don't see why I shouldn't tout my own horn a bit given that I already tout so many other people's, and I do so against my better judgment.


thanks! Let me say a little more. The paper I want to publish first is much more general and (I dare say) interesting than the technical results. Even if the proofs hadn't existed, the argument itself would hold; still, the proofs motivate certain technical choices I make in the paper. This is why I prefer to go with the paper first. I've seen it here and there (pretty often) people citing stuff from (someone's or their own) thesis. Would it help that the reviewers will see the citation as "redacted" anyway (I can't do otherwise--the stuff is so new that it'll be obvious that the author of the proofs wrote the paper too)?


I've cited others' theses several times, when there's material in them that isn't anywhere else. Like others in this thread, I recommend a symmetry between self-citation and other-citation. So if I'm right to think it's OK to cite others' theses when there's material that can only be found there, then it should similarly be OK to cite one's own thesis in similar situations.

(I think this is especially true of theses that are readily available online, which most from the last decade or so are.)


If previous work of my own is relevant to the current work, I cite it. I sometime throw in a citation or two to myself that are not necessary but not utterly irrelevant either. But I do that with other philosophers' work as well. (In general, I think we should be citing more.)

I sometimes cite my own unpublished or thesis work when it is necessary for my argument. I don't think that's ideal. I would have preferred the work to be published in a journal first. But, normally, I am circulating unpublished work/work from dissertation at the same time that another paper may also be circulating. So if I was Forma, I would be circulating at the same time two things: the paper and the proofs that help explain the paper. If the paper gets accepted before the proofs, then cite the dissertation. But I wouldn't wait for the proofs to get published first--that might take too long.

Daniel Weltman

In this case I'm a Kantian: act only on a maxim you can will become a universal law. Can I will the "cite myself" maxim become a universal law? Yes, very much so. I prefer that other people cite themselves when this is relevant, both published and unpublished stuff. If they have relevant work on the topic that they don't cite, this just leaves me in the dark. Stuff I would potentially want to read on the topic is hidden from me. Failing to cite oneself is almost as bad as failing to cite others, and failing to cite others is not good. So I cite myself whenever relevant. When it comes to peer review worries I just leave out the citations and write something like "citations omitted for anonymity."


I have seen people put the proof of something as an appendix. You'll get one fewer publication that way, but you'll also be doing your part to limit the spread of salami science in philosophy.

Assistant Professor

An article from n+1 on sexism in the academy covers a wide range of topics applicable to philosophy but this really struck me in particular:

"A male scholar is nearly twice as likely to cite his previous work than a female peer is to cite her own. Self-citation builds up the base of a paper’s citation count, leading other scholars to cite that paper at a rate of about four new citations for every self-citation."

The article goes on to say that self-citation can be up to 10% of all citations across disciplines, and adds: "The mini scandal of self-citation, however, cannot simply be resolved by 'lean-in' feminism — say, by exhorting women to cite themselves more — because female self-aggrandizement frequently provokes a backlash, a reaction that tends to be especially pronounced against women of color."

See the full essay here: https://nplusonemag.com/issue-34/essays/sexism-in-the-academy/

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