“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.