Effectively Recycling and Reusing Scholarly Text

Effectively Recycling and Reusing Scholarly Text | Tips on How to Get Your Research Published
There is certainly no lack of text in the modern world, with the internet being a primary provider of reading material for an increasingly wider international audience. Anyone who has begun to research a topic or problem online, however, will soon discover that there is a great deal of repetition in what is available and too often a lack of original text and ideas. With the production of text for a wide range of reasons such a primary concern, it is little wonder that authors have resorted to recycling their writing so frequently. Scholarly authors are certainly not exempt from this practice, which can prove successful, but the trick is to recycle and reuse your writing thoughtfully, giving each new chunk of text you share with the world at least a touch of originality.

The greatest care must be taken with writing that is formally published in scholarly journals and books. It may be necessary to revisit in a new manuscript research that you have already reported in another publication, but it is important that you do not simply copy paragraphs that have already been published. Vary the information a little, shaping it to the new context as you work, and the result will be more effective and more conducive to a sound scholarly reputation. Tables, figures, appendices and the like can often be reused without much change (except labelling and numbering), but the first published version should be acknowledged, and it is also a good idea to seek permission from that original publisher in order to avoid copyright problems.
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Academic and scientific presentations are often reused by scholars, who may attend several conferences in a year and present the same paper at more than one of them. As a general rule, this is acceptable, but if the same people are likely to be in the audience at different conferences, you may want to make at least a few changes, particularly in relation to the main theme or topic of each conference so that your presentation fits each situation perfectly. If, on the other hand, you give completely different presentations at each conference, you will truly impress those who attend the same conferences with your range and productivity.

Instructional materials are often recycled by busy academics and scientists, especially when the same courses are taught year after year. Keep in mind, however, that the most interesting teachers are those who regularly update their courses with current research and advances – both their own and those of other scholars – and you do not want to become one of those instructors who use old yellowed notes year after year. For examinations, the odd question can be reused in subsequent years, but not every year and not many questions: most of the material on any given exam should be new or the potential for cheating becomes too great.

There is far more flexibility with online text, and unless a site you are writing for has particular rules against it, recycling will probably be acceptable. This does not mean, however, that you should not reshape each chunk of text to match its new context, and it is obviously best if readers do not think your contribution was written for some other venue. Remember that even online the most impressive scholarly authors are those who make a habit of producing new and original material, or at least material that has been so effectively recycled as to seem so.

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If you are in the process of preparing an article for an academic or scientific journal, or planning one for the near future, you may well be interested in a new book, Guide to Journal Publication, which is available on our Tips and Advice on Publishing Research in Journals website.

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