Understanding Text Recycling: A Guide for Researchers

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Text Recycling Research Project


As a researcher, you may have occasion to reuse material from your own previously written documents in new documents. You might, for example, want to recycle passages from your approved ethical review protocol in a grant proposal, reuse some of the literature review from your grant proposal in a research article, or reuse the description of a procedure from one of your published articles in a new article that used the same procedure. While less common, you may also have occasion to translate your published work into another language or to republish your journal article as a book chapter. All of these examples can be considered cases of text recycling. Unlike plagiarism, which is widely considered to be research misconduct1,2 , text recycling may or may not be appropriate depending on how and where it occurs. In some cases, especially when it facilitates clear communication, text recycling can be ethical, professionally appropriate, legal, and perhaps even desirable. In other situations, text recycling may be unacceptable because it infringes copyright, violates a publishing contract, inhibits communication, or misleads editors or readers. This document will help you understand these differences. This guide is a product of the Text Recycling Research Project (TRRP), a U.S.-based multi-institution initiative funded by the National Science Foundation. While some of the issues addressed here are not universally agreed upon, this document is based on published research conducted by the TRRP as well as guidelines from a number of leading organizations of editors and publishers. These are listed under References at the end of the document.


Permission is granted to reproduce this document in full without modification for noncommercial purposes, so long as the copies are distributed at or below costs and identify the authors, title, and date of publication. Please see Using TRRP Materials for details.