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Jonathan Ichikawa

On the legal question: it is important to remember that depending on the details of your contract, the journal may own a copyright on the words you used in the article — if so you need their permission to publish them again. But the ideas behind them are still your own. Philosophical ideas cannot be copyrighted.

So you always have the legal right, even if you don't seek permission from the journal, to rewrite the ideas of your published paper in another context, say, in a book.


I have a potentially naïve question on these issues. What does it mean to "reuse material"? Does it mean: copy/paste from a previously published article, perhaps with a little editing?

I ask because I would have thought journals could copyright prose, but not ideas. So one could, in principle, re-write the material from a previous publication, presenting it in a different way. I would have thought that would side-step the issue of "reusing material." But I'm not sure.


For what it's worth, I (an ECR) recently published my first book and did exactly what Jonathan and Tim describe: I included ideas and arguments from several papers I had previously published, but in every case, I wrote their exposition anew and simply cited the relevant papers. Sometimes I said things like "I have argued elsewhere...", and often I put a slightly different spin on the material - expanding it, updating it in light of new developments, etc. As far as I could tell I was completely within my rights to do this, and it hasn't caused any problems.

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