Oftentimes students think that because they are the original author of work they can reuse their work in full or in excerpts with no consequences. However, many universities claim that republishing one's own work is a form of plagiarism. Self-plagiarism is defined as a plagiarism type in which the writer republishes a work in its entirety or reuses parts of a previously written text while writing a new work. The ethical issue of self-plagiarism is the main focus as it infringes upon a publisher's copyright. Most universities' definition of plagiarism doesn't typically include self-plagiarism so students are unaware of the ethics and laws involving this act.
Understanding the Difference Between Plagiarism and Self-Plagiarism
Plagiarism is the practice of claiming credit for the ideas, words or concepts of others while self-plagiarism refers to the practice of presenting someone's previously published work as if it were new. Self-plagiarism occurs when the author doesn't let the reader know that this material has appeared elsewhere.
Here are some instances of self-plagiarism:
- Publishing a study as smaller studies to increase the number of publications rather than publishing it as one large study.
- Republishing the same paper that is published elsewhere without telling the reader or the publisher, instructor or professor.
- Reusing parts of previously-written text, whether sentences or entire paragraphs/pages.
Copyright law in the United States protects original works of authorship. When someone claims themselves as an author it guarantees that their work is original, not previously published and that no other agreement to publish it is outstanding. Authors can quote from portions of other works with proper citations, however, without these citations, this may be considered plagiarism by a college or a university. This doesn't mean that it includes just published text, but when it is first created and fixed in a tangible form.
How to Avoid Self-Plagiarism
The idea is that the core of a new document must be original knowledge and ideas and that only a small amount of previously published material (with citations) is included. As a student, it's important to never take previously-published work, even if it is your own, and use it for future assignments as you risk the chance of being accused of plagiarism and can face expulsion.
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If you or your student has been accused of self-plagiarism, a criminal defense attorney such as Joseph D. Lento can help represent you during the hearings. Don't allow an honest mistake or brief lapse in judgment ruin your chances at finishing your education. There is absolutely no reason why you or your student should be denied to continue their degree because of an honest mistake. With years of experience, a Joseph D. Lento can represent you throughout all disciplinary proceedings to ensure your education is protected.
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