Daily Archives: January 23, 2014

Self-plagiarism: Is there really a problem with it? (Spoiler alert: Yeah, there is, and it’s a serious one)

Title page of self-plagiarism white paper from iThenticate“Writers often claim that because they are the authors, they can reuse their work, either in full or in excerpts, over and over again. How can republishing one’s own work be defined as plagiarism if the author has only used his or her own words and ideas?”

It depends on the kind of writing you’re doing. In marketing, for example, the best way to stay consistent and on-message is to use the same words over and over when you write, say, a webpage, a brochure, and your boss’s presentation for a trade show.

But you are a scholar, a researcher. You’re held to a different and higher standard. There’s an expectation that everything you publish is not only your own work but also new, fresh, and original. And that makes it an entirely different matter.

To make it clear just how different, the Office of Research Compliance and Ethics has posted a white paper on self-plagiarism on its website. The paper was produced by iThenticate, a producer of professional plagiarism detection and prevention software (it compares manuscripts against a database of over 43 billion web pages and 130 million content items). The quotes above and below are from the white paper.

“This white paper explores the definition of self-plagiarism, how it crosses into copyright laws and ethical issues, and the different ways an author can avoid this increasingly controversial act of scholarly misconduct.”

N.C. A&T uses iThenticate as a check against plagiarism, accidental or not, selfie or not, on research proposals.  It has helped a number of researchers avoid problems.

Click here for the white paper. And be careful out there.

The new relationship between editors, freelancers: unexplored territory for A&T journalism researchers

As newspapers depend more on freelance journalists to produce content for print and online publications, a study by two North Carolina A&T researchers examines the pros and cons of the newspaper editor and freelance journalist relationship in the digital age.

The study was conducted by Kim Smith, Ph.D., an assistant professor in the Department of Journalism and Mass Communication, and Emily Harris, M.A.J., a lecturer in the department and advisor to the award-winning A&T Register student newspaper. The researchers found no studies in the literature focusing on the editor/freelance journalist relationship in the digital age.

Such a study is important because of the dramatic changes taking place in the newspaper business. More newspapers are downsizing their full-time news staffs as print readership and ad revenues decrease, while online readership and ad revenue increase. Unable to hire full-time reporters to provide content for print and 24-hour online publications, some newspapers are forced to hire freelance (part-time) journalists, who get paid by story and receive no benefits.

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