Q: Can I publish a book on my research that includes the same data and analysis I have published elsewhere in a journal article?

Detailed Question -

I have recently completed my PhD thesis, and have had a journal article published that includes some of the data (and my analysis of the data) from my thesis. It now looks as though I may have the opportunity to publish my thesis as a book. Is it self-plagiarism if I publish the same data and analysis (only paraphrased)?

1 Answer to this question

Firstly, congrats on completing your PhD thesis! You’ve probably not completed the defense, but congrats on having got this far! :-)

Coming to your query, from the way you have described your situation (and you have described it quite well), you should be fine. However, you need to be cautious/conscious of a few things.

  • The book will probably be based entirely on the thesis, whereas the journal article is a synopsis of the thesis, so to speak. So, you’ve probably already written the journal article in words that are different from those in the thesis. What you need to do for the book is to ensure that no text in the book is the same as that in the article. Else, that would be plagiarism. This is because the article is now the copyright of the journal. You have already mentioned that you plan to paraphrase. So, you seem to have the right idea on how to go about with the book.
  • With regard to the data, you should be okay using it, but you need to cite the paper in case you are using similar tables and figures. To be on the safer side, you should simply go ahead and cite the paper, as there is bound to be some area of commonality.
  • You should also keep the journal editor as well as the book editor informed of the situation. You wouldn’t want any nasty surprises later.
  • Ensure that the book publisher is a legitimate one. Bogus publishers often contact younger researchers urging them to publish their article or book with them, later asking a huge fee and starting off a spiral of coercive tactics. This is known as predatory publishing. If your book goes in the wrong hands, it could be a big academic loss to you. Losing a journal article is a smaller loss, not so an entire book. So, you need to be aware of this. You can use this checklist to ensure the publisher is a genuine one: 10 Point checklist to identify predatory publishers

You may also find these queries by other researchers useful:

Finally, in case you need help with editing your book, you may consider our suite of editing services here: Editage Editing Services

Hope that helps. And all the best for your book!