The most recent poll was inspired by a recent article on the Ethicist, a blog on the New York Times, entitled, Can I Use the Same Paper for Multiple College Courses? Some readers see it as a stroke of genius, while others view it as the mark of laziness. Some suggest that it is cheating, while others opine that you are only cheating yourself. International Business Times writer James DiGioia disagreed with The Ethicist in his article, The Ethicist is Wrong: Self-Plagiarism is Cheating. Given those different opinions, we wanted to see what our WriteCheck community thought. “Is it ok to submit one paper for two assignments?”
The results were evenly split among the poll respondents between “not OK” and “OK”. The Ethicist describes why this situation is tricky, explaining that emotionally, our hearts cry that “this must be unethical, somehow,” but aside from these emotions, he argued that there were no grounds that inherently make submitting papers to multiple assignments unethical.
Unlike James Digioia, Jason Chu of Plagiarism.org agreed somewhere in the middle, saying: “OK--if instructor approval is received. Not OK otherwise.”
In summary, although debatable, it could be concluded that submitting a paper to multiple assignments is “OK” with approval from both instructors. Otherwise, it may be a violation of university-wide academic integrity codes and generally accepted principles that assignments are unique to a class.
These three scenarios are real-life situations that students may face at one point in their academic journeys. Some scenarios may appear more straight-forward than others, however, no plagiarism allegation is simple. Self-plagiarism, for example, may make more sense in a professional or scholarly environment because of copyright issues. Self-plagiarism is a grey area, and a relatively new term within academia, and is still to be explored. Wikipedia also is a newly introduced site, becoming popular only within the last decade.
While definitions and rules of plagiarism are debated, learning the definitions and how to cite properly, as well as working with instructors when a question arises are all ways to avoid plagiarism and academic misconduct.
Have you encountered situations where you asked yourself “OK or not?” Continue the conversation on Facebook and stay tuned for more installments to the OK or Not? poll series!
WriteCheck User Survey Highlights 2013
Plagiarism in the Classroom: Tune Out of Listen & Learn?