Is auto-plagiarism acceptable ? September 3, 2007Posted by dorigo in Blogroll, books, personal, physics, science.
Here is an instance of a question that is best asked in a blog. I know this site is read by a few academics who frequently publish their work and attend to conferences, and I thus expect to hear from them what they think of the following practice.
Imagine you give a talk at a conference, on some subject, and a few months later you give a very similar talk at another conference. You have changed your slides only to accommodate new results, some new considerations, added some material and subtracted some. It is legal to do that: in fact, you are sometimes even expected – or asked – to give the same seminar in different places.
However, when you later have to write the proceedings for the second conference, you are assailed by a doubt: should you start writing your proceedings article anew, or make heavy use of the one you published just a few months back ?
Proceedings are printed matter, and as the old adage teaches – verba volant, scripta manent – you know somebody could one day confront you with the question: “What advancement to the field did you grant with this second paper?”. None at all, of course: a writeup of a conference talk is not meant for that purpose. Still, if you cut and paste large portions of stuff that is already published elsewhere, you feel guilty.That is, I do.
I am less interested of the legal side of the question, but there is one. I signed a transfer of copyright agreement with AIP (the American Institute of Physics) when I submitted my manuscript last September. Now, that very document explains that I have “The nonexclusive right, after publication by AIP, to give permission to third parties to republish print versions of the Article or a translation thereof, or excerpts therefrom, without obtaining permission from AIP, provided the AIP-prepared version is not used for this purpose, the Article is not published in another conference proceedings or journal, and the third party does not charge a fee. If the AIP version is used, or the third party republishes in a publication or product charging a fee for use, permission from AIP must be obtained.” So, since the PASCOS conference will also use AIP as a publisher of their proceedings, it looks as if I will have to ask AIP to use excerpts of the first proceedings for the second one, of which they will still be the publishers!
Hmmm… I am more interested in the moral issue. Any ideas ? What do you do in similar cases ? Try to reinvent the wheel ?