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Is Quoting Your Own Dissertation Plagiarism?

by Kristie Sweet

For many students, the dissertation represents the culmination of the academic experience. The paper typically presents research and ideas that exhibit a student's understanding of methods and materials and proffers new concepts or attitudes in a given field. Instructors, publication editors and scholars in the field typically expect papers and publications to demonstrate originality. You may be tempted to use material from your dissertation in later writings, but doing so may be regarded as plagiarism unless you follow particular guidelines.

Determine how much information from your dissertation you need to include in the new paper. According to APA guidelines, you may insert a small amount of your own previously published words and ideas without giving a citation, but this information must be limited and not make up substantive content in the paper. For instance, details about methodology, instrumentation and theory may be appropriate.

Use language within the text to indicate ideas came from earlier work, such as, "This methodology replicates that used in a previous study by this researcher." In this type of instance, according to APA guidelines, your paper may synthesize concepts from the dissertation without other attribution.

Add citations if the information you want to include is more extensive, particularly if you need to quote from the dissertation. Place the details from your dissertation in one or two paragraphs if possible, ending with a citation that includes your last name, the year the dissertation was published and a page number for direct quotation.

Include your dissertation on the References page if you cited it within the paper. Use your last name followed by first initial with a comma between and a period after. Put the publication year in parentheses with a period. List the title of the dissertation, italicized, capitalizing on the first word and any proper nouns in the title. Without adding further punctuation, write "Doctoral dissertation," without the quotation marks, within parentheses followed by a period. Then give information to tell the reader where to find the piece, such as the name of the database or the URL: Jones, K. (2013). The name of the doctoral dissertation (italicized) (Doctoral dissertation). Retrieved from http://www.dissertations.edu.

Tip

  • Omit self-attribution only if its inclusion creates awkward or confusing structure. If in doubt, add citations to your dissertation to avoid charges of plagiarism and scholarly dishonesty.

Warning

  • A journal may reject your paper submission if the editor feels it contains too much information from your dissertation or is too much of a duplication of previously published work.

References

About the Author

Kristie Sweet has been writing professionally since 1982, most recently publishing for various websites on topics like health and wellness, and education. She holds a Master of Arts in English from the University of Northern Colorado.

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