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What Is Self-Plagiarism?

The notion of plagiarizing yourself may seem ridiculous, but it is a very real issue with the same serious consequences as blatant plagiarizing (copying and pasting without citation) and other forms of academic misconduct. Self-plagiarism is a growing concern and a rising topic of conversation. Understanding what self-plagiarism is and how to avoid it is imperative to students and any aspiring writer or scholar.

What exactly is self-plagiarism?

You won't find a definition in Merriam Webster dictionary (online) or even Wikipedia. It may seem like self-plagiarism is a grey area, but academia and publishers have well-defined rules. Self-plagiarism is the reuse of one's own previously written work in another piece of work without including reference to the previous use. Basically, writers need to let readers know that the text was previously used -- perhaps submitted as a school paper, a journal article, a blog post or other public viewing -- by properly citing those outlets. Educators consider the recycling of a student's own work as unethical.

Self-plagiarism may also be called "data fragmentation" or "salami slicing," which occurs when the author of a study separates parts of her or her study and publishes it in more than one publication. A definite no-no when publishing your work. If publishers find out that an author has self-plagiarized, it may be grounds for retraction/s (pulling that work from public viewing), legal consequences or fines. In addition, an author's reputation and future writing career may suffer, and publishers may choose to no longer publish that author's work.

Self-plagiarism may also fall under copyright infringement. For writers who have published work, e.g. scientific research, the copyright may be tied to the research journal or publication. It is up to the writer to fully understand the journal's terms before submitting it for publication.

Read More about Self-Plagiarism (WriteCheck Writing Center)

Related: Top 10 Types of Plagiarism (infographic)

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