When you think about plagiarism, the first thing that likely comes to mind is using someone else's work without their permission. But have you ever heard about self-plagiarism? This concept may sound contradictory, as it's your own work you are using, so why would that be a problem?
Regrettably, it can be. Self-plagiarism transpires when you reuse substantial parts of your previous work and republish it without adequate citation. This ethical concern often applies to individuals frequently required to produce written content on similar topics, such as researchers, writers, students, or professionals.
Let's dive into the subject of self-plagiarism and how to steer clear of it.
Self-plagiarism, also called auto-plagiarism or duplicate plagiarism, happens when you reintroduce your earlier work and submit it as something new without proper citation. This includes entire pieces or portions of your previous work. Even paraphrasing or misquoting your past work falls under self-plagiarism.
Although self-plagiarism isn't generally illegal, it is regarded as dishonest and can bring about ethical dilemmas, causing it to be largely unacceptable. In academic circles, it's considered a form of misconduct, as published research should be current and up-to-date.
Occasionally, self-plagiarism might result in a breach of copyright law. For instance, if a piece you wrote is copyrighted, and the intellectual property rights have been sold, reusing that work could lead to legal issues.
While self-plagiarism might not usually lead to legal repercussions, it can harm your reputation, impact search engine rankings, and erode trust among your readers.
People sometimes resort to self-plagiarism because it saves time and effort. Reusing content that took a lot of time and research to produce seems like an easy way out. However, this practice is frowned upon and can lead to problems. It is most common in research, where there's immense pressure to publish to progress careers or secure funding.
It's okay to build upon previous work, but one must be clear that resubmitting past work as new is unprofessional and considered a form of misconduct.
If you're planning to reuse some of your previous work, consider the quantity and the type of material. Recycling an entire paper is far more problematic than reusing a few points. Moreover, using prior arguments and key findings from previously published work as new is much more serious than recycling background information.
Here are some strategies to avoid self-plagiarism: