Q: Can I use part of my dissertation in a paper for another project?

Detailed Question -

Hi, I am a student in a non-science field. One of my supervisor's important projects funded by the government needs part of the content of my graduate dissertation. I have revised the relevant part of my dissertation and added it to the paper. However, I don't know if this has any ethical issue. Please guide, thank you. The details are mentioned below: 1. My dissertation was submitted in 2013, and not published either online or in a journal. 2. The paper which is part of my supervisor’s project may be published in books or related journals in the future. 3. Revisions have been made to the original content of the dissertation, but the main structure and organization remain the same. Thank you again!

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1 Answer to this question

You can use part of the dissertation in the other project, provided you cite the dissertation properly. However, since the dissertation was not published anywhere, you will have to cite it as an unpublished work. Different journals have different formats for referencing unpublished work; but for now, you can use a generalized style:

Manuscript Title. Unpublished manuscript, University Name, Location.  

However, you should reword the text you are using as far as possible, else you might have problems clearing the journal’s plagiarism check.

Additionally, if you are using a large part of the content, it is better to mention this in the cover letter and state that you can provide the dissertation if the journal wants. 

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