Take the 2-minute tour ×
MathOverflow is a question and answer site for professional mathematicians. It's 100% free, no registration required.

Over the last few years, I have been writing several papers in the same direction as part of a research program. This means that the same exact setup is introduced at the beginning of each of my papers: i.e. the basic assumptions on the categories I am using, the basic terminology and notions, etc. As you can imagine, there are only so many ways of stating the same exact assumptions over and over again in each paper and now the first one and half pages of all my papers are beginning to look very much alike. I am a little worried: is this some kind of misconduct? Even though the content of my papers is different, is this "self plagiarism" or something when the first part of the first section looks almost identical to that in other papers?

I should mention here that by "first part of the paper", I am not talking about the introduction. Obviously, each paper has different motivations and different results and hence different introductions. I am talking about the first page of the body of the paper, where you put in stuff like "Let C be a category satisfying ....yada yada yada...and we will denote this operad by this and so on..."

share|improve this question
6  
This thread on academia.stackexchange might help: academia.stackexchange.com/questions/2893/… –  Yuichiro Fujiwara May 22 '13 at 9:03
2  
If this does stay open it should at least be community wiki. You can make this change by clicking edit and looking for the CW box to check –  David White May 22 '13 at 9:35
6  
If all your work is in one sub-field, it would be surprising to not see isomorphic background sections for all your papers. It's only cause for concern if you are claiming a new contribution each time or something, which does not sound like the case. I would recommend citing some of your earlier papers along with other related material at the outset of your latest background section, with a sentence like "the following definitions and results are similar to those in [5,6,8,12,16]" –  Vidit Nanda May 22 '13 at 9:42
4  
Here is a general rule which I tell my students when they need to write background material which they learned from another source, and which perhaps applies to material from ones own earlier writings. Don't be lazy: learn the old references in your heart of hearts, and then rewrite it anew the way you need it for your current paper. –  Lee Mosher May 22 '13 at 12:58
8  
Being referred to another paper for an explanation of notation is something I tend to not enjoy much... –  Mariano Suárez-Alvarez May 22 '13 at 14:31
show 4 more comments

Your Answer

 
discard

By posting your answer, you agree to the privacy policy and terms of service.

Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.