Can You Plagiarize Yourself: Information that Everyone Should Know
Academic integrity is an integral part of the quality of higher education around the world. After all, it is unacceptable when student works are transferred from course to course only with changed title pages, other people’s opinions are paraphrased without reference to their real author when the purpose of scientific research is not new scientific knowledge, but obtaining a scientific degree.
Based on the claim that it is impossible to steal something from your own self, many experts believe that self-plagiarism does not exist or that it is not a violation of academic ethics. The basis for this view of self-plagiarism is also the idea that different sciences have different views on the nature of scientific knowledge.
However, taking into account the definition of plagiarism as copying part of a text from another source without properly referring to its author, the problem of self-plagiarism can be seen as misleading the reader into reading a new, original text. The problem is relevant because some authors publish the same scientific results several times, presenting them as new. Thus, it seems important to consider this issue in more detail.
The Concept of Self-plagiarism, Its Varieties, and Causes
In search of an answer to the question “Can you plagiarize yourself?”, you should understand that self-plagiarism is the publication of one’s own previously published scientific results as new scientific achievements. Self-plagiarism is usually detected by Turnitin. It reduces public confidence in science as a whole, as well as in the scientific results of individuals and institutions.
The main reasons for the use of self-plagiarism by participants in the academic process may be the following factors:
- Unawareness of repeated publication of one’s own text or its part;
- Lack of time/effort/resources/ideas to prepare new material – lost convenient access of readers to the previous publication;
- Opportunity for students to pass the same work in two different disciplines;
- Previous publication in an unpopular magazine;
- The desire to spread own ideas to different audiences;
- The desire to increase the number and rating of own publications.
In cases of self-plagiarism, it should be realized that it is not about the appropriation of someone else’s results but about the incorrect use of academic ethics to use previously published own scientific results. This determines the specifics of identifying cases of self-plagiarism and academic responsibility for such violations. The isolation of self-plagiarism as a type of violation of academic integrity is based on the following main reasons:
- Undermining public confidence in science as a whole, as well as in the scientific results of individuals and institutions;
- Obtaining unjustified benefits for work not actually performed, for example, obtaining additional funding for research that was not actually performed or increasing the author’s scientometric indicators;
- Infringement of copyright and related rights of other individuals and legal entities, in particular, publishers and co-authors.
Typical examples of self-plagiarism are:
- Duplication of publications – publication of the same scientific work (in full or with minor changes) in several publications, as well as re-publication (in full or with minor changes) of previously published articles, monographs, other scientific papers as new scientific works;
- Duplication of scientific results – publication of the same scientific results in different articles, monographs, other scientific works, as new results that are published for the first time;
- Submission in the reports on the implementation of scientific projects of the results contained in previous works, as obtained during the implementation of the project;
- Aggregation or addition of data – combining old and new data without their clear identification with appropriate links to previous publications;
- Disaggregation of data – publication of part of previously published data without reference to previous publication;
- Re-analysis of previously published data without reference to the previous publication of these data and their previously performed analysis.
However, self-plagiarism does not include reprints of monographs, textbooks, manuals, other works that contain the results of scientific, educational, or creative activities, which provide information about reprints and/or technologies, tools, and strategies for research reference to the first edition. Also, self-plagiarism is not a limited use in new monographs, textbooks, manuals of fragments of previously published works of the author, if the new work provides relevant information, and the amount of duplication is agreed with the publisher and customers.
Can You Plagiarize Yourself: Peculiarities of Quoting Your Own Work
You can copy your own work without plagiarizing. But it is necessary to arrange self-citation in accordance with the same rules as the usual citation of other people’s texts. That is, the own text, used by the author repeatedly, should be clearly separated from the new text using quotation marks or another method accepted in the scientific field so that the reader does not have doubts about its novelty. A link to the source is required.
Republishing in Another Language
EASE experts single out the translation as a form of self-plagiarism. Often, the original language version authors do not provide a link to the original source when translating their work into other languages. They believe that readers will not be interested in the original language version since they will not be able to understand it. In addition, in an effort to expand their audience, authors hide the fact of publishing in another language from the editor. This practice is unacceptable. It is not legal to plagiarize yourself. The editor must consider each work on an individual basis and decide on a publication based on its scientific relevance to a particular linguistic community.
Transparency and responsibility in the relationship between the author and the editor is the main condition for a successful publication. Republishing the same article in another language is possible only with the permission of the journal where the original publication was and with the obligatory reference to the source. In this case, it is necessary to associate the re-publication with the DOI of the original publication.
The Popularization of Scientific Knowledge
The presentation of previously published scientific results in a popular science form for an unprepared readership in order to disseminate and popularize scientific achievements can be recognized as conscientious behavior. The characteristic features here are a change in the style of presentation from scientific to popular science, a decrease, or an increase in the text volume.
The main purpose of the rewriting is to eliminate the formal coincidence of the old and new texts in order to create the illusion that this text is being published for the first time. The abbreviated presentation (abstracting, retelling) by the author of more voluminous fragments is not rewriting. Thus, you can reuse your own work in college. However, the reader should be clear who owns the source text, where the author’s speech ends, and the retelling of someone else’s thought begins.
Tips for Avoiding Self-Plagiarism
A good publication is the result of quality research work. If you are genuinely passionate about the topic, adhere to international rules for planning and conducting research depending on its type, are not afraid to be disappointed with the results, and have the courage to report your mistakes to colleagues, most likely you will not need to falsify, fabricate or plagiarize data. Unintentional violations of publication ethics are certainly always possible, but to reduce the risk of unpleasant situations, try following the tips below:
- Tip 1. Always review the ethical requirements or regulations of the journals to which you submit manuscripts. It provides definitions of plagiarism and self-plagiarism, as well as the consequences for authors in case of unethical behavior;
- Tip 2. If you are the first author or corresponding author, check the work of your co-authors. Immediately notify colleagues of the necessity to adhere to publication ethics, and after the draft is ready, check it for fragments of text that are sharply out of context in terms of style of presentation and do not contain links: this usually indicates a borrowing;
- Tip 3. Avoid copying fragments of your own work – retell them if necessary. Remember that if you are honest as a researcher, each of your research on the topic still needs an updated context. If there is a need to use the data previously published by you in your work, then clearly indicate this in the text of the paper.
In this article, we have tried to provide you with the complete answer to the question “Can you plagiarize yourself?”. As the analysis shows, there are a number of nuances and citation rules that should be taken into account. Try to follow our advice, and you will definitely succeed in avoiding self-plagiarism in your own publications.