• October 30, 2014

Plagiarizing Yourself

Teaching Illustration Careers

Brian Taylor

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Brian Taylor

At the end of the summer, I helped run a discussion for faculty members who would be teaching a certain book to freshmen in the fall. During that session, our first-year dean showed us a PowerPoint presentation she had prepared for the students on academic honesty and dishonesty. She wanted to give us a sense of the information freshmen would be receiving during orientation before classes started.

Her presentation contained a slide that said academic dishonesty included plagiarizing yourself—i.e., taking a paper you had written for one course and turning it in for credit in another course. That, she explained, constituted a dishonest representation of your work for a course.

"Unless," one of my colleagues chimed in at that point, "you're an academic, and you're presenting the same idea at a bunch of different conferences. Then it's clearly not dishonest."

I laughed along with everybody else, and then we went right back to the presentation. I didn't think much further about the exchange, or about the idea of plagiarizing oneself, until we hit the second week of this semester, and I was handing back the first set of writing exercises to my class of freshman honors students.

I use writing prompts in all of my courses both to ensure that students are keeping up with the reading and to prime them for the day's discussion. The format is always the same: I pose a question related to the reading, and ask students to write a paragraph in response on a half-sheet of notebook paper. I grade the writing exercises simply, on a 10-point scale, using only two criteria: Did the student answer the question? Did the student provide evidence from the text in support of his or her idea?

After the writing exercise has ended, I pose the same question to get our class discussion started. We have better discussions when I use the writing prompts than on the days that I don't.

So for the first writing exercise of the semester, I posed a question that was designed to prepare students for the first paper topic (although they didn't know that yet). In the next class session, after I gave back the graded exercises and handed out the paper assignment, a student raised her hand.

"Are we allowed to use ideas from our writing exercise to help us write this paper?" she asked.

"Of course," I said. "That was the whole point of the writing exercise—to get you a head start in thinking about how you want to approach your paper."

"OK," she said. And then after a brief pause: "Because at orientation they told us we weren't allowed to use our own work twice."

"Ah," I said. "That doesn't really apply in this case. And anyway, I don't really mind, in this course, if you take a paper that you've written for another course and revise it for an assignment in here. You just have to make sure that what you turn in fulfills my specific assignment. Other professors might feel differently, though. So I would always ask before you tried to do that."

I stopped there, realizing that I was probably just confusing everyone. But after class I sat in my office and couldn't stop thinking about the issue. Immediately my mind went back to my colleague's remark last summer about conference papers. His quip reflected an obvious truth. Most of us among the ranks of tenured faculty members have recycled a presentation from one conference to the next, or trotted out a conference paper in a pinch that was merely an extract of one of our published articles.

In fact, most people in any profession do the same sort of recycling. If the sales pitch you labored over at your first company was successful, why not use it again at the second? You might have to tweak it to accommodate a new audience, but otherwise you're going to stick with what works.

The more I thought about it, the more examples of that occurred to me. My neighbor across the street, a resident in a medical program, has presented the same research at a bunch of different conferences. And of course when I have a lesson plan that works, I recycle it until I get bored with it, or until I come across new research or ideas that make it obsolete. My wife does the same thing with her kindergarten lesson plans.

So does the injunction against plagiarizing from yourself fall into the category of one of those hypocritical rules that we like to impose on our children: Drinking soda every day would be bad for your health, honey, but it's fine for me?

If a categorical difference exists here between what we do and what we forbid our students to do, I confess, I have a hard time seeing it.

I can foresee the counterargument: Academics give presentations multiple times because we are testing out our ideas, and want to see how different audiences react to them before we put them in final form. After each talk, we may revise our paper as a result of the response, and then present it again. Eventually, we will have tweaked and revised it enough that we submit it for publication somewhere—improved, no doubt, by our multiple presentations of the idea.

That process is one of the more rewarding aspects of our profession. It's an opportunity to take good ideas and make them better by a series of feedback-and-revision loops. That process, I'm certain, reminds us of some pretty basic truths about learning and the intellectual life: That good ideas must be articulated and tested in public forums, for example, or that every presentation must be tailored to fit its specific audience, or that even our best ideas should be considered provisional ones, always pending new information.

So why deprive our students of the opportunity to learn those same lessons, by recycling a particular paper from one course to the next?

I can foresee one more objection: What's to prevent a student from recycling the same paper from course to course to course? Students who did so would lose the valuable opportunity to practice their writing—and writing, like any other intellectual or physical skill, requires lots of practice.

But—practically speaking—the opportunity to reuse a paper might arise only once or twice in a student's career, thanks to the diversity of our course assignments and disciplines. A paper assignment that a student gets in my English class on 20th-century literature won't be anything like her assignment in Renaissance literature—much less from psychology or sociology. Because the content of courses differs so much, the opportunity to use the same paper will happen only rarely.

But when it does, why not allow a student to take advantage of the opportunity? Suppose a student writes a final research paper for an introductory psychology course in the fall semester of her freshman year, and receives helpful suggestions on it from the professor. That same student then takes an English-composition course with me in the spring, and I assign an open-topic research paper to finish the semester.

Why should I not encourage the student to revise her psychology paper, according to both the guidance she received from her previous professor and the new writing principles she has learned in my course? She couldn't merely turn in her old paper; it would have to fulfill the requirements of my assignment. The student would not only get the opportunity to return to a set of ideas she thought she had finished, but the assignment would also reinforce the interdisciplinary nature of knowledge and the curriculum.

No doubt, she might end up doing less work than a student who wrote a paper from scratch in my composition course. But does that really matter?

At this point, dear readers, I would like to turn the discussion over to you. I have two questions.

First, do you see a problem with allowing students to revise a paper or presentation created for one course and turn it in for another one, assuming they can make it fit the assignment for the new course? Does this count as plagiarism?

Second, are there any courses or programs that build such a process into the curriculum—requiring or encouraging students to take work from one course and adapt it for another?

I encourage readers to offer their ideas. Of course if you have published or presented elsewhere on this subject, you should still go ahead and share your recycled idea. I will leave it up to you to decide whether to feel guilty about that.

James M. Lang is an associate professor of English at Assumption College and author of "On Course: A Week-by-Week Guide to Your First Semester of College Teaching" (Harvard University Press, 2008). He writes about teaching in higher education, and his Web site is http://www.jamesmlang.com. He welcomes reader mail directed to his attention at careers@chronicle.com.

Comments

1. lethalfang - October 04, 2010 at 09:06 pm

My view is this: if two courses are so similar that, a student can use the same work for both classes, then the courses are simply redundant. Either elimite one of the two courses and save university money in the meantime, or limit the number of units one student may earn if he/she has already completed the other (which is done often).

2. jnapolitano - October 04, 2010 at 09:30 pm

You seem to answer your own question here. When you provided the in-class writing prompt to your students, you were in a sense contributing to the development of the work that came out of it -- and for that reason, students at any level are expected to put their instructor's name on the paper. When you write a doctoral dissertation, you cite other academics whose work you used, acknowledge those who sparked any of the intellectual flame, and put your advisors' names right on the front with yours.

My problem is with the slide your dean presented -- using a paper for multiple classes isn't an issue of the student plagiarizing herself; it's an issue of the student borrowing from the intellectual property of the first professor who prompted the paper without proper acknowledgement.

3. brendon22 - October 04, 2010 at 10:11 pm

Definitions and technicalities aside, I think the principle that underscores the importance of original assignments at the undergraduate level is that students learn best by "doing". Which skills are we developing by permitting this type of behavior? Editing? Review? Ultimately, permitting students to regurgitate in this fashion robs them of the opportunity to engage in generative and original work, not derivative.

4. amnirov - October 04, 2010 at 10:13 pm

What sort of lazy academic halfwit actually presents the exact same paper at more than one conference? It's clearly plagiarism and it's a ripoff to those of us who go to a lot of conferences and end up seeing the same idiot delivering the same paper. People know it's wrong, too, because they get pretty embarrassed when you call them on it.

5. tcli5026 - October 04, 2010 at 11:33 pm

Question: "What sort of lazy academic halfwit actually presents the exact same paper at more than one conference?"

Answer: All sorts. Yeah, ideally we shouldn't present the same paper, but probably the last reason against this practice is the one amnirov cites, namely, the possibility that someone will end up seeing the same "idiot delivering the same paper." Most large conferences have dozens of panels going on at the same time, so why would someone go to listen to the same person he listened to in the last conference, especially if the paper title is the same or similar? Now, that would be idiotic.

Amnirov should offer a reasoned repudiation against the presentation of the same paper at different conferences. He should define what he means by plagiarism (the dictionary definition is clear enough: "the practice of taking someone else's work or ideas and passing them off as one's own."

Why engage in pointless name calling, something that "idiots" tend to do?

And, by the way, if one is presenting a paper in front of two very different audiences, why would be wrong to get feedback on an early draft of the same paper? Isn't this one reason for presenting your paper in conferences in the first place?



6. zsuzsanna84 - October 04, 2010 at 11:52 pm

I agree that these questions must be addressed, esp. because academic integrity policies exist, and yes, we expect students to follow prescription. I teach intermediate writing and I spend time on discussing plagiarism issues with my students, including the no-recycle policy of papers between courses. At the same time, I tell my students two things: 1) they need to talk to both professors about their policies, esp. if the two courses cover similar topics or ask for similar assignments, and 2) when they begin working on their open-topic persuasive researched essays, I do encourage my students to yet again, approach their professors in their respective fields if a project that develops as part of my course can be seen growing into, say, an honors thesis in a different course. It has already happened and the results were pleasing to all, to the student in particular. Win-win. I do not condone a blatant breach of the policy, but i feel such interdisciplinary efforts send the right message to students. Thank you.

7. shopkow - October 05, 2010 at 07:14 am

I have a different question. What sort of teachers provide such open and unfocussed assignments that students can reuse their work in multiple classes without changing or developing it?

Leah Shopkow

8. jsummer - October 05, 2010 at 07:27 am

I recently had a student working on converting a conference paper to a journal paper. He expressed frustration at the challenge on re-writing the relevant work section to ensure that we did not plagiarize ourselves. The review needed to contain the same material (limited work in this area), but needed to present it in a new way. The frustration was compounded when we jointly reviewed a paper that had the exact same literature section as another paper by the same author (both at the journal level). There is definitely a need for clarity on what it means to self-plagiarize and a needed for clarity on the differences between rolling theses to conferences to journals.

9. mbelvadi - October 05, 2010 at 07:51 am

I'd like to suggest that we erase the term "self-plagiarism" from our vocabularies as being utterly oxymoronic. The moral opprobrium that attaches to "plagiarism" comes from the sense that by using someone else's work without attribution, you have "stolen" credit for good ideas from someone else who actually deserves it - that is, there's a victim. But if you are the original author, then you do deserve the credit, so no one is the victim of "self plagiarism". Our students surely figure this out for themselves, and it weakens our credibility with the students with regard to the rest of our explanation of academic dishonesty.
I would add to the litany of places in which people acceptably reuse past work: popular music performers, who play their old hits concert after concert, decade after decade. That's something our undergrads must surely notice.

Ironically, the "self-plagiarism" by academics in scholarly publications, unlike that by students, does have victims, although not by authorship. Libraries are essentially forced to pay twice for the same intellectual content, when what is basically the same article is published twice in two different journals/proceedings the library subscribes to. Libraries can't choose at an article level what to buy - they buy an entire year's worth of journals (or an entire conference proceeding) at a time.

10. ksledge - October 05, 2010 at 08:00 am

I don't think it's hypocritical to have a different standard for students and for professionals. The point of a class is for the student to learn. The point of the grade in the class is the demonstration of learning. Recycling an old paper is not a demonstration of learning. If the student slightly reworks the paper to fit the new assignment that student isn't learning as much as someone who starts from scratch. While I wouldn't be against this reworking to fulfill the assignment, I'd want to know ahead of time and then work with that student to make sure that the assignment is rigorous enough to match the amount of credit for someone who is starting from scratch. In a sense, I'd hold the student to a higher standard. I'd also want to see the beginning and end products.

The purposes of giving an academic talk are different. One purpose is as the author said -- one can get lots of feedback and tweak accordingly in order to eventually publish the research and/or design future research that builds on it. Another purpose is to get your research known to the wider community. It is to teach about your work. Repeating the same work at conferences that have the same attendance is probably not the best idea. But giving the same talk at a few different Universities is fine in my mind, because it's different people. Where this can become cheating as in the case of the student is when the academic represents them as separate pieces of work on the c.v. Also, I don't think it's kosher to publish in print two research articles that are the same or extremely similar. You get "credit" for publications in a way that you don't usually for talks, so reusing work isn't truly fair in that sense, unless you disclose it.

Likewise, I think it's ok to reuse teaching strategies and materials because the purpose of them is to teach someone else. The purpose is not for you yourself to go through the exercise of developing another assignment. On the other hand, a good teacher will keep the course content up to date. Also, teachers should be very wary of reusing assignments in a way that helps students cheat off of previous students, but a good assignment won't have that problem.

11. cleverclogs - October 05, 2010 at 08:17 am

I had a student actually *apologize* during a class discussion for making a connection between what we were talking about in our English class and what she was doing in Art History. I told her it was perfectly fine, and in fact I encouraged them all to make connections to other courses. If someone can find a connection between Shakespeare's language and HTML coding, so much the better. And if that connection is the result of having written a paper in CompSci, some of which makes it into an English paper, is that so bad? Heck no. I'd say it's good.

To me, that's the biggest problem with this idea of "self-plagiarism"; it encourages students to see their courses and even assignments as discrete learning events as opposed to a matrix of connections which builds into an education. Encouraging students to make these connections will improve their complex reasoning skills and will help them remember and incorporate the knowledge more completely.

12. rjsax - October 05, 2010 at 08:26 am

Hmmm, being a performing musician, I half-seriously wonder about performing the same work or recital program at various venues! What is that?

Now, seriously, if there is a real chance to synthesize material from one discipline to another in a student's coursework, should that be viewed in a negative light by anyone? Isn't synthesis good? I understand the need to practice writing skills, but there is a balance, and cleverclogs @8:17 a.m. states it well.

13. willismg - October 05, 2010 at 08:32 am

Shopcow (#7)... What kind of teachers? Well, from my experience, classes in education departments overlap to such a degree that I was able to pass off many rather major "projects" in various classes. The most noticeable that comes to mind is a portfolio. It seems that almost every education class that I took (while satisfying the requirements for a non-traditional certification in Maryland)required virtually identical work for covering virtually identical content. Sure, there were the odd assignments that were more focused, but they were certainly the exception rather than the rule.

14. colorlessblueideas - October 05, 2010 at 08:56 am

Others have stated it, but it is worth emphasizing: there is no such thing as "self-plagiarism". It is a made-up concept. One can *not* plagiarize oneself.

Courses in which the identical paper meets the requirements of an assignment are at least redundant in part. Lethalfang (1) advised eliminating one of the courses to "save the university money". More to the point: one should be eliminated to save the *student* money. Such redundancy morally is theft from the student by the university.

Fortunately, the problem seldom occurs, most likely in the common "white males are evil" courses passing for education in some of the 101 social sciences block requirements. Eliminating some of those would make the term paper recycling problem pretty much go away.

Cleverclogs (10) pointed out a significant disadvantage in the case of prohibiting partial reuse from one paper to another: when a concept is interdisciplinary, then a policy against 'self-plagiarism' is a policy against the liberal arts in general. I'd like to see that idea expanded.

15. 11196496 - October 05, 2010 at 08:57 am

If the curriculum in an undergraduate major is truly integrated and developmental, a student should be able to use a lower-division project (and the professor's comments on that project) as a jumping off point for a more sophisticated development of the project in an upper-division or even a graduate class. When a student raises the issue of reuse, I discuss with the student the previous project and what the improvements in the new one will be to make sure that the exercise will not be redundant and will fulfill the requirements of my class. I also require the submission of a copy of the original project. Occasionally I advise the student to pursue some other project in order to develop the student's range of abilities and interests.

16. nathanielcampbell - October 05, 2010 at 09:04 am

My Master's thesis started out as a two-page response paper for a theology course fall semester of my senior year as an undergrad. It grew into a 20-page seminar paper for a theology course that spring semester, and then into my 60-page Master's thesis. Did I "recycle"? Yes, of course I did: that's how good thinking works. It cycles over and over again, rethinking and revisioning ideas until they are in the best form.

17. rjsax - October 05, 2010 at 09:14 am

It is arguable, however, that since plagiarism is a made-up concept in reality, and exists within a set of general scholarly ethical beliefs or practices and is not a crime (excepting when it also is a violation of copyright, for example), then an institution can choose to have their own set of rules which constitute proper student or faculty behavior toward their own material, at least within the the halls of that institution. I abide by my college's prohibition of alcohol on campus, but at my previous college, it flowed freely at every reception or campus event. Same situation here....

18. zenidche - October 05, 2010 at 09:14 am

I know of at least one institution where students write two major papers in their junior year; in their senior year they are required to develop one of these papers further. The intention is that they build on their own work and at the same time demonstrate intellectual growth. While this may not be a case of "self-plagiarism" in the sense that the author or some commenters meant, it definitely is a case of re-using work. As ksledge (10) pointed out, one's academic products aren't necessarily ready for prime time on the first go round.

19. panacea - October 05, 2010 at 09:33 am

"When you provided the in-class writing prompt to your students, you were in a sense contributing to the development of the work that came out of it "

Contributing to the development of it??? Oh, come on. Lots of things can be a Muse in academia, but we don't credit Muses in formal writing unless it's in the acknowlegements section of a book, and maybe not even then.

In any case, plagarism is the stealing of other peoples ideas. 1) You can't steal from yourself, and 2) Not acknowledging the proffesor who "inspired" your work isn't stealing.

Saying that turning in work twice is plagiarism is stretching the meaning of the word inside out.

As for the idea that we are permitting students to "regurgitate work" if we allow them to turn in an assignment more than once . . . again, give me a break.

Students regurgitate work all the time. They often write their work with the intention of pleasing their professor (I've had many students attempt to write so as to support my perceived biases). I've had some students actually cite my lectures in their work . . . and there's nothing in the APA that says they can't, but how original is that?

What it really boils down to is, what do we want students to learn from writing assignments?

I want them to:
1) Improve their actual writing skills.
2) Learn how to research information.
3) Learn how to cite properly
4) Learn how to express their own ideas
5) Learn how to interpret professional literature in their field

Since no two assignments are EVER completely alike, it really doesn't make sense to turn in the exact paper for more than one professor. But it doesn't mean students can't use an old paper as a base for a new one. Here's why:

1) You still have to rewrite the paper, thus the opportunity to improve writing skills is still there.
2) You're still going to have to adjust the content of the paper to fit the new assignment, so you're going to have to do additional research.
3) You'll be adding new citations, which you will have to cite.
4) You have to adjust the content, so you have to explain how your ideas fit the requirements of the assignment at hand.
5) You'll have to interpret new sources to fit the assignment at hand.

Now I'm sure someone will dissect my arguments, so let me add this point:

On another blog, I've been having a lively discussion with college students all over the world (and they know I'm a nursing professor). All of them have given examples of BS papers they have handed in, and gotten A's on. One pointed out that his professor bragged he could spot BS papers in an instant, and that he got an A on the BS paper he handed in.

In short, students know how to play the game of doing the least possible to get the best grade. They tend to view written assignments as a hoop to jump through, especially if they are not worth much towards their final grade. Unless the professor is diligent about grading, a lot of BS will get through.

And even if the professor IS diligent, a lot of BS will get through. How?

I'll give an example.

Let's say researcher A creates a methodology for studying the social behavior of white girls in a charter school. The paper is published and well received.

Researcher B needs to write a paper . . . it's publish or perish time. He reads researcher A's paper. He conducts a study using the same methodology, but studies black girls instead.

He's written "original work", the paper gets published, and he's a notch closer to tenure.

Bottom line?

If we really want to deal with the issue of doing original work in the classroom, we need to look at what we want to accomplish out of the assignment and create a specific rubric telling students what it is we are looking for. Individualize the assignment to the course, and the problem solves itself. It takes work to really make the assignment specific to a specific course, and not so generic that any old paper would do. If the professor is not willing to put that work in, he should not complain about students not doing "original work."

20. merope - October 05, 2010 at 09:48 am

My justification for prohibiting students from submitting the same work in my course as has been previously submitted in another course arose from a student who failed my course one semester, then repeated it, submitting the same "original research" assignment as he had used in the first failed attempt. As I was only a TA at the time, the course supervisor ruled that the paper could be submitted for credit, since the student hadn't earned any credit the first time around. This action is what I am attempting to prevent by forbidding students to "repeat" work. If a student were to revise a previous project substantially, I would certainly encourage him or her, but in 5 years of teaching my own courses no student has made such a proposal to me.

21. abichel - October 05, 2010 at 09:52 am

The idea of "self-plagiarism" is ridiculous. Should the professorate be citing themselves during lectures that are obviously rehashed versions of their earlier selves? Should students be made to document every thought that has ever occurred to them if the thought occurred more than once? Knowledge creation demands that ideas be tried, twisted, revised, repurposed and restated.

The idea that some have suggested, that somehow the development of ideas is entirely beholden to the "intellectual property" of those instructors who have come before, is perhaps best regarded as wholesale intellectual slavery since the work of the students in question apparently was never really theirs to begin with. What hubris. This same attitude is reflected in the claim that the name of one's dissertation advisor belongs on the front page with that of the author. Faculty have long stolen from students in the name of education, that is no secret, but demanding extra credit for the theft seems low even by today's standards. Faculty should look elsewhere to prop up their sagging egos and thereby actually teach their students something of importance - that trial and error are the foundational building blocks on the pathway to success in a creative society and that they, the students, own the rights to each and every one that they create and are entitled to use such creations as they see fit.

22. dr_redrum - October 05, 2010 at 10:01 am

It's not okay for professors to present the same paper over and over. End of story.

23. mcentellas - October 05, 2010 at 10:26 am

I see no problem with students submitting similar work multiple times. Learning (like scholarship) should be cumulative. Imagine a student wrote a very good paper in an upper-level course, then used it as the starting point for a senior thesis. Shouldn't that be not only allowed, but encouraged? The onus is on faculty to make sure the student further develops the work in ways that show growth. Similarly, academics present the same paper two or more times to get different feedback, to expand the paper, to edit it, etc. Why shouldn't students get that ability?

Self-plagiarizing is oxymoronic, as others have pointed. By that standard, once faculty submit a manuscript, they should start from scratch to write a "new" one before submitting it to another journal.

24. greensubmarine - October 05, 2010 at 10:34 am

It seems to me that you've oversold the differences between the standards students face and the standards academics face. The analogy between student papers and academic talks is a false one. Why not make the analogy between student papers and published academic papers? It's one thing to give a talk multiple places, but journals, with very good reason, will often retain publishing rights and refuse to consider work you've published elsewhere. Even for talks, most would consider it dishonest to list presentations of the same talk on a CV as though they were distinct pieces of work. Similarly, people look down on "salami publishers" who break of chapters of a book with little modification in order to pump up their article count.

I see little distinction between that and the situation students face, where they might very well want to revise an old paper, but before they do so, it is incumbent upon them to seek out the approval of both the instructor to whom it was initially submitted, and the instructor who will get the revised version.

25. irashkow - October 05, 2010 at 11:00 am

I have advised grad students to keep seminar papers which they can revise as either conference papers, journal articles, or even chapters in their dissertations.

26. 12080243 - October 05, 2010 at 11:07 am

I guess we at the University of Southern Mississippi think about plagiarism different from other schools. On the other hand, maybe we don't. You be the judge.

When our College of Business copied another school's Academic Integrity Policy, then-Dean Harold Doty advised our accreditors, Association of Collegiate Schools of Business, "we did not reinvent the wheel". He was referring to Academic Integrity Policy a colleague copied from Syracuse University. It had been presented to the AACSB as our own without citing the source. When Dean Doty was asked about another act of copying from another school's documents also to be used for reaccreditation, he asked Professor Charles Jordan to get approval from the dean of the school he copied. Professor Jordan asked for permission to copy "without proper citation." Then-Dean at Central Missouri State University Harmon College of Business Administration granted permission. Dean Doty, later Interim Dean Alvin Williams, and higher administrators advanced copying "without proper citation." To this day, Syracuse University's Academic Integrity Policy is on our webpage "without proper citation." Current Dean Lance Nail is fully aware of these facts.

When we studied and documented these events, we were advised by the AACSB visitation chairman, Dean Cummings, University of Houston-Clear Water, that AACSB is not a proper subject of research, which provided rationale for University of Southern Mississippi administrators to punishment the researchers.

So, at the University of Southern Mississippi, if faculty get permission to copy another's words and ideas "without proper citation", then s/he does not have to cite the original author(s). This de facto plagiarism policy has implications. The research project can be viewed at http://commons.aaahq.org/posts/3d4bfd4201

Chauncey M. DePree, Jr., DBA
Professor
School of Accountancy
College of Business
University of Southern Mississippi

27. impossible_exchange - October 05, 2010 at 11:08 am

The difference in this case between a professional academic and a first year college student is that every piece of writing they do is a huge learning moment. Whereas, while the professional academic, in theory, might learn from every piece of writing they produce, they no longer need to "log" that effort to achieve academic accreditation, nor does each act of writing produce a significant amount of growth in ability, knowledge, or development.
Such activity makes little difference to academic's status and competency, it still might be a bit of a hack move, but for different reasons.
However, an undergrad who skips too many assignments might fail to learn crucial skills.

This "thought" comes up fairly regularly as a certain type of academic look for a script to flip so they can claim to be "innovative" or innovating.
College is a mental fitness center.
Every exercise is important to push these young minds to grow, to strengthen, to become "college educated."
It isn't about some sort of awkward relationship with our guilt for submitting the same paper to two conferences or journals or whatever.
It isn't about some sort of special rules for us; although there are different rules for us with good reason. We're paid to do this, they are paying to do it. Give them their money's worth. Be a tough, challenge them, in the end they will thank you.
It is about making these people produce the mental sweat they need to become smarter.

28. moozer57 - October 05, 2010 at 11:20 am

As a student and as a presenter, I have used previous work upon which to build new papers/presentations. I see support for this in other comments to the initial column. It makes no sense to me to forbid this practice. First, it can overwhelm students to a point where they stop the academic process altogether, and second, as mentioned a few times, it allows students to refine and "rebuild" their thoughts on that topic to produce a better product.

29. 22208120 - October 05, 2010 at 11:38 am

If it's OK for professors to present the same paper over and over, what is the harm in allowing students to recycle a paper from one course to the next?

The most obvious reply, I suppose, is a quantitative one: students are supposed to complete about 128 credits' worth of different kinds of academic work over the course of an undergraduate program. Re-using term papers would dilute the total content of a 128-degree program.

Presenting the same paper over and over at conferences is obvious to all (including CV evaluators), but if that's what the public wants to hear, then recycled presentations is what the public should get. One could argue, I suppose, that the attendees at subsequent presentations would not be the same as at the original presentation. But the re-publication of presentation transcripts and abstracts as new ones would be unlikely (and probably unethical).

30. emerson1 - October 05, 2010 at 11:46 am

By definition, plagiarism is stealing someone else's ideas and words and passing them off as your own. So recycling and revising your own work is not plagiarism and no dean should tell students that it is. If a dean or professor wants to encourage students to undertake new work instead of recycling old work in the interest of broadening their base of knowledge, that may be a conversation worth having. On the other hand building and expanding on old work to can also enhance knowledge and increase expertise.

31. dmarshak - October 05, 2010 at 11:57 am

http://www.madcoversite.com/mad158_phd.html

32. texasguy - October 05, 2010 at 12:02 pm

For researchers, the issue is not "self-plagiarizing" but including enough new materials in any new paper. If I had to prepare a journal version of a paper that was presented in a conference, I would try to include as many materials as I could and would probably rewrite the first few paragraphs of the introduction. I would not change anything else for the mere sake of changing.

The same applies when writing a second paper on a given topic. I do not see why we could not reuse previously written introductory materials and only edit what has to be changed because the different scopes of the two papers. At the same time, I always cite my previous work on the topic.

33. tuxthepenguin - October 05, 2010 at 12:24 pm

Is it wrong to recycle your knowledge of mathematics from one course to another? We should assess the students' mastery of the material, not the amount of effort. If a student has written an A paper, it should not matter that it was first written for another course, because the student has demonstrated that he/she can write at an A level.

In practice, that idea falls apart, because the paper often doesn't fit the second course as well as the student thinks.

34. 11126724 - October 05, 2010 at 12:32 pm

The discussionis interesting and meaningful, but based on a false premise.

Plagiarism is theft of intellectual property of another. It is NOT possible to steal from oneself. Call it something else, question whether it is proper, but it is NOT plagiarism.

It seems to me that how one handles the same paper in different courses is a matter of what one wants and expects students to learn from the assignment. If it is merely an assignment intended to improve one's writing skills, there is no reason to prohibit using the same paper again, providing it is revised to meet this objective.

But if the assignment is intended to add to the student's substantive knowledge of the universe, it would be more appropriate to require the student not merely hand in the same paper twice. Two different papers on the same subject would be acceptable, provided they utilized different sources and did not subtantially duplicate substantive information.

But none of this is at all similar or relevant to what academics do when they present similar papers to different audiences at multiple conferences. The objective there is NOT for the author to improve their writing or to learn new knowledge, but to contribute to the dissemination and accumulation of knowledge.

Anyone who assumes that a paper they write automatically comes to the attention of everyone in the world when it is published is nuts! Those who are well-known in their disciplines, at least in the social sciences, are those who have promoted their ideas and books repeatedly in multiple fora. Irving Horowitz, David Easton, and many other luminaries in their fields knew this and practiced it. The diffusion of technology, or ideas, is a complicated process which rewards repetition and persistence--and many graduate students citing one's publications frequently.

35. 1233312 - October 05, 2010 at 12:35 pm

This argument has taken a somewhat odd tone because some people fail to recognize the concept of "draft" and "practice" and that there are some forums in which refinement and reapplication are preferred, while there are others where repetition is not ideal. (e.g. if I work out the best cookie recipe from trial and error, then I probably want to replicate that.)

In my field, most conferences are just the practice, where you get to workshop your ideas prior to publication. If you present at multiple conferences, no worries, although you do want to group the CV items together for clarity. But to present a long-published paper at a conference as anything other than an invited speaker, now that would be weird. Whereas, in a field where the conference proceeding is equal to publication, obviously you couldn't do multiple presentations.

I have some classes where students are encouraged to redo prior work. Certainly there is something to be said for the pleasure of really polishing up a piece of writing through multiple revisions. But, and here is the big catch, I need to see the initial version so that I am able to judge that they did enough in terms of new work to merit the credit. Also, does the paper fit the goals of the class? Is there a match between subjects?

36. 11185500 - October 05, 2010 at 12:47 pm

I once had a paper rejected from a scientific symposium because it was "too similar" to a previous paper of mine. (In involved an analysis of a subset of a previously reported population.) When I received the rejection comment, I thought "fair enough" because I too had that concern but also thought the subpopulation analysis provided useful information. It seems to me this is the nub of the issue: just how different is the new from the old paper? At least in the biological and physical sciences, the idea of presenting the same paper over and over is ethically and scientifically unacceptable. But an idea that is substantively different yet related to a previous stream of inquiry is simply the way of science. To resurrect a canard, the difference must make a difference. I note the above commentaries come from liberal arts and humanities colleagues where quantitative analysis from a defined dataset not the norm. All of what I have read above would be defined as intellectually lazy and/or ethically unacceptable in the quantitative sciences; that is not to say the same conclusion can be drawn in qualitative fields of study (I can't bring myself to use the word "science" here.) If nothing else, it affirms that universities are composed of at least two universes, and explains why our conversations across sciences and humanities are too often a dialog of the deaf.

37. vlghess - October 05, 2010 at 12:51 pm

Sounds like we're talking about multiple ideas under the same heading. I see a distinct difference between attaching a new title to an old paper and turning it in, vs building and integrating ideas.
The time I most remember dealing with it professionally was back as a Science Division chair having to adjudicate a plagiarism assertion by the instructor of our Senior Seminar, who was given as a seminar paper the work done by the student in the Senior Seminar course he'd taken in business, with relatively little Value Added.
In retrospect, while I still fault the student for failure to communicate, we'd have done better to define our CIS assignment so as to allow his business paper, at best, to serve as a lengthy intro to the real CIS project.

38. brucejanz - October 05, 2010 at 01:06 pm

One major exception that no one has mentioned: creative writing workshops. I think students hand in the same piece of fiction to multiple workshops, when there are different faculty involved, and unless Turnitin is used, no one knows. In that case, it isn't about the paper's content, but the form, and it's not really a paper but a story or non-fiction essay or something. That does seem like a problematic case of self-plagiarism, because the point is to produce new works of art.

39. daytripper - October 05, 2010 at 01:47 pm

Nice article. Reminds me of a friend of mine when we were undergraduates. She was a philosophy and psychology major and wrote a fantastic paper on William James, which, with only minor revision, she turned in for almost every class in both curricula. She was cited for its excellence by nearly every instructor she had. She became a Rhodes Scholar based on that paper!

40. willbonds - October 05, 2010 at 02:00 pm

In the professional world where I practice engineering, we call this IP (Intellectual Property) re-use. We do it to leverage our time and devote more time to more creative efforts -- which is what students should be doing. If the course output overlaps so much, then the profs aren't doing a good job of educating. Alternatively, advisors aren't keeping the students from overlapping their courses.

41. tcatterson - October 05, 2010 at 02:17 pm

We need to distinguish plagiarism from academic dishonesty. When we do this, it will hopefully become clear that many of these comments are talking past each other. While every instance of plagiarism is an instance of academic dishonesty, the converse asssertion does not hold. As others have noted 'self-plagiarism' is not really plagiarism, because it is impossible to steal from one's self. But it could still be academically dishonest. Suppose, for example, that I present the same paper without any revision at multiple conferences . All I do is change the title. I then list the presentations with these different titles in my CV as if they were presentions of distinct papers. It is obvious that what I have done is academically dishonest, but it is also obvious that I have not plagiarized.

So the real question is: is it always ethically wrong to recycle the work you have done for one class to meet the requirements of another class? From what I have read above, it seems that there is indeed a consensus on this issue once it is conceptually disintangled from the red herring of plagiarism. The answer is, that depends on whether or not the student in question is honest with the professor about what they are proposing to do, and whether or not the recycled work actually fulfills the requirements of the new assignment. This last stipulation is not necessarily about the actual content of the paper. As educators, we are teaching process as well as product, and it might well be that the student should not submit recycled work because it counteracts the demands of the actual process.

42. der_gadfly - October 05, 2010 at 03:23 pm

In a past college, I taught in a program that was decidedly constructivist. We took pride in how well we had integrated many of the assignments at all levels. Abilities gained in first year courses were enhanced each year, culminating in a senior portfolio, which was supposed to demonstrate progress and competence. We also had a capstone project, and this might or moght not incorporate revised work created for previous courses. In this context, I see nothing wrong.

I was able to use a significant portion of my research in two of my undergrad courses, as I was looking at two completly different aspects of a larger topic (I believe it was wastewater treatment in town - one was for the public health course, the other was on groundwater geology). I do recall letting the profs know that I was getting extra bang out of my library time, (and the interviews I conducted) and although they both asked me for a longer paper, they thought it was pretty cool.

43. jrust1 - October 05, 2010 at 04:00 pm

To become an expert in one's field, I believe a person needs to mull ideas over and over again to flush out different aspects of the "problem". The idea of plagerizing yourself is acceptable. To expect learners to not plagerize themselves, is a disservice to the institution of learning. For example, I recently completed by dissertation. As a class, we were encouraged to write one of our comp exam questions related to our research interest. We could use our exam response to launch us into our dissertation proposal and expanded literature review. Up until that point, I was conditioned to write a paper, hand it in, and that was that. The dissertation was a process of learning, thinking, and writing like an expert.

Personally, I think it is foolish to use the same paper, conference presentation, or course syllabus without ever making changes to it. I teach with the idea of tweaking my courses every semester and I don't have a problem with students tweaking their work. If one doesn't make changes to present ideas/concepts, a person becomes stagnant and complacent. I don't want my students or myself becoming stagnant. We do the world of work and higher education a disservice, if we don't become life long learners and concept tweakers.

Dr. Jodi Rust

44. drj50 - October 05, 2010 at 04:16 pm

There is a difference between what rjsax calls "synthesizing" and mere recycling. I find it problematic if some students have to do the work of writing a paper for this course while others get credit (and the same grade) for simply turning in something they have done before. The point of each course is that students learn new things. A student learns nothing from recycling a paper.

Synthesis is different. A student may be able to develop an area of expertise or focus by doing papers in several courses on related topics. I did something like that in several graduate courses and those papers became part of the foundation for my dissertation. But I was doing fresh work in each paper.

So, I am with the author: I would like to know if students are "recycling" in any fashion, so that I can ensure that they are actually doing some work for my course, as well as to help them think about ways to expand or build on earlier work and make it better.

45. readandwept - October 05, 2010 at 08:22 pm

"If the student slightly reworks the paper to fit the new assignment that student isn't learning as much as someone who starts from scratch."

...Really? Because I very often learn more from doing revisions, allowing me to explore an idea more deeply than a single semester allows, than from doing something new at a surface level.

46. arrive2__net - October 06, 2010 at 04:04 am

I think that it would make sense for a professor or college to have a rule about students reusing their own work ... to turn it in for credit in a second course, but I don't think it is inherently dishonest because the student would be using their own creation. Instances where a student could turn in the exact same paper ... twice would seem to be extremely rare, except perhaps in courses like, creative writing (as mentioned above), where the student is given substantial leeway on length and subject. In such instances, the course needs to have clear rules on reusing old work.

Where a student does have some background on a subject by virtue of having already written a paper on it, building a new paper on the bones of the old one could be an enlighing experience where the student can find additional, and perhaps higher-level sources, or if the student includes text reflecting what the student has learned 'since then', or where the student takes more time to develop new ideas instead of just spending time looking for references. How inappropriate the instance of reuse is depends a lot on what the student does with it.

Once I had a paper I could have resubmitted, but on reading it I realized it was so primitive (it had been written freshman year) that it would have been a waste of time. That would be a problem with a student trying to reuse an old paper, the student has learned more, and the old paper is likely to be from lower-level course.

If it is a case of turning in exactly the same paper for new credit, and the professor or college is going to punish or rebuke the student for it, such a punishment should only be based on a clear rule. In my opinion, you shouldn't make such a rule, unless you really think the prevalence and severity of the problem is going to justify putting effort there. It seems to me that almost all of the time ... a paper reused from a prior course, unchanged, maybe a couple of years old without updates ... different class and prof...probably isn't going to amount to much of a grade. So the punishment, low grade, would fit the crime without any special rules or enforcement effort.

Maybe a simpler rule to prevent unrevised resubmission would require a least one reference from the past two or three months, which would therefore require at least that update and revision.

It seems to me that a key ethical factor is 'can the student (or professor) be open about reusing all or part of a previous paper or presentation'. If it has to be done secretly, then there's probably something wrong with it.

When a professor is giving the 'same presentation' its usually not really 'the same'. Presentations are almost never identical to one another, unless it is prerecorded, or read from an exact script. The presenter learns about the subject as he or she does presentations, the presenter comes up with new ideas and new developments, for an accomplished presenter these factors work their way into the presentation. Also, differing audiences will ask different questions so the q&a sessions will also differ. Most presenters mention they have given that paper before, and that may actually make the paper seem more interesting since it would have to be very important to justify all those conferences accepting it. Obviously, if a presenter gives an identical presentation under a fake name in order to pump-up a resume, that would be wrong, however that would seem to be so unnecessary that I doubt it would happen much. A presenter could simply rework the presentation, update it, change point of view, inject a few 'what I have learned' points, and include more criticism and/or support for the central idea involved. That would pretty much make the old presentation a new one.

Bernard Schuster
Arrive2.net

47. mama_says_so - October 06, 2010 at 10:37 am

I was glad to see that students are *allowed* to use pre-writing as part of their drafting process, but was astonished to find out that "other professors may feel differently." Why ask a student to complete work if they can't use it to meet the needs of an assigned task?

Focusing on *whether or not* we can use our own intellectual property is, to my mind, the wrong target. The real question is HOW do we use it most *effectively*? It would be more responsible to help students to see how they can re-vision (to literally see again with a new vision) how their work can be translated, transformed, to meet the various, but related aspects of their University education? After all, for a lot of students (for most?) their time at college is a means to end, not an end in itself. Wouldn't they be better off having learned how to responsibly "steal" their best ideas and present them to their audience in the most effective way possible?

Coming from a creative writing perspective, the idea of "plagiarizing" yourself is one that is often, if not explicitly, told to adopt, at least encouraged to use. "Good writers steal" is advice I was given on multiple occasions, and not just as a student on a combined creative writing & literature track. I heard the same advice in my preparatory classes for teaching writing which I took to fulfill the requirements of my graduate degree in English Education.

Of course, the advice wasn't meant to inspire plagiarism, per se, because (as has already been mentioned in several comments here) by definition, you can't call "recycling" your own ideas plagiarism. Even a cursory review of "classic" literature can show us the flaw in this logic. Do we not see repeated themes, ideas, words and phrases in the work of Milton or Einstein or Wilde? I'd wager that we do.

And why not “lift” entire passages or papers from one context to another, if they are so well written as to fit the demands of more than one context? My suspicion would be that many of them are not this well done, and so probably earn mediocre marks as a result. Are we doing our students (and perhaps also ourselves) a disservice by failing to help them own their ideas to an extent that they *can* be reused in multiple contexts?

During my one year condensed Masters degree and teaching certification program, there were times when professors actually encouraged us to craft our graduate work to meet the needs of related courses, gladly accepting and grading the same work for credit in overlapping (but not redundant, which is an important distinction) courses.

My suggestion would be to root out the perpetrators of such a dubious myth as plagiarizing yourself, particularly as part of advice to first year students during orientation, who are confused enough as it is. I commend you for at least questioning the idea and presenting it in an open forum for others to consider.

~ms. m

mamasaysso.wordpress.com
myfyc.wordpress.com

48. drbiterbiscuit - October 06, 2010 at 11:35 am

"First, do you see a problem with allowing students to revise a paper or presentation created for one course and turn it in for another one, assuming they can make it fit the assignment for the new course? Does this count as plagiarism?"

This could be a fantastic assignment in the right context, especially for upper division writing courses. This allows a student to refine creative thoughts from earlier in the academic career, show improvement in research skills, and demonstrate higher quality writing (and citation) skills. I'd probably require a copy of the paper that is being reused.

49. jaybob - October 06, 2010 at 01:12 pm

What a great idea for a column, except for the part about opening the discussion to the readers.

50. charrua - October 07, 2010 at 02:36 pm

Jsummers (comment #8), if it is not for copyright issues (the author may have transferred the rights to the journal), I don't see any harm in copying and pasting a literature section you authored. I think the decision there should be based on what are the chances of a reader being familiar/having access to the first article. If it is available, brief description followed by (cf. My Previous Article, ) should suffice. You save effort, some reader's time, journal space, etc. However, if the original article is not available (obscure conference proceedings, out of print) you may have a point to copy and paste. At the end of the day, I think the re-write to purely avoid using the same words does not serve any useful purpose (except to literally follow a rule or show your masterful paraphrasing skills). As a matter of fact, it may be the opposite, to obscure the lack of originality of a particular argument.

51. tallenc - October 07, 2010 at 03:07 pm

I don't think a student's re-using his or her own material is plagiarism.

Whether it's appropriate to do it or not is a different question, and I think it depends on the circumstances.

When I'm teaching a composition course, for example, I'm grading the papers based on how well they're written. If I've assigned a particular topic, then the paper has to be on that topic, of course, but aside from that, I'm not really grading the student on knowledge of the subject matter so much as on presentation of that knowledge/subject matter. If one of my students is taking another class for which he or she has to write a paper, and the students turns in approximately the same paper (adjusted for the specific requirements of each assignment), I would consider that a good thing in most circumstances. The student is demonstrating the ability to make big-picture connections between academic disciplines, and it's hard to complain about that, since it's one of the things that my course is supposed to teach. And the student benefits too, by getting comments on different aspects of the paper from different academic perspectives.

I agree, though, that the student must ask, though, because some professors feel differently--and even I might feel differently in different circumstances. If the student is in my literature class rather than my composition class and he are she is also taking a humanities class and the student turns in exactly the same paper, I can see good points and bad. It depends on whether the question is about the the same paper's appropriateness to the two disciplines or about whether the student is doing enough work, and if the second question is the issue, that might well depend on the requirements of the particular college or university involved, so it's hard to answer in a general kind of way.

One caveat: If the student has previously published the paper in some form and re-publication issues come into play, then that's a different situation altogether.

52. amberwb - October 07, 2010 at 04:49 pm

In my field, the major conferences actually do forbid submissions that have been presented elsewhere. Of course, people still present the same material with minor tweaks nonetheless.

That aside, I think one upside to allowing students to revise work for an assignment is allowing them to get experience with sustained inquiry. Undergraduate (and some graduate) coursework involves short bursts of scholarship on some topic, after which the student often never has to think about that particular topic again. If a student does not do an honors thesis or go on to graduate school, s/he can leave school never having considered a single topic or worked on a single project for more than a few weeks (or even a few days--let's be serious about how many papers are written). That gives them no opportunity to learn to delve deeper into the literature, to really give a knotty issue some serious thought, and to work past the boredom, tedium, or frustration that can set in with a lengthy project.

And of course, graduate students are expected to develop their own program of research--the smart graduate student takes every opportunity to write about a dissertation-related topic. Even if all of these papers have their own unique topic, PARTS (e.g., literature review, rationale for studying the topic, etc.) are going to necessarily be similar. Why, as other commenters have asked, require a student to waste time changing prose so that it says the same thing without saying the same thing?

53. crickels - October 08, 2010 at 11:35 am

I am currently dealing with this type of situation. I presented a paper on Feminist International Relations theory at a state Political Science Association conference as an undergraduate student, and received some excellent critique. Now, as a graduate student, I would like to finally take those critiques, implement them, and submit the paper for a Women's Studies course.

This would make me guilty of 'self-plagiarism', though. My question is, then, what was the purpose of the critique at the conference? It is preposterous to suggest that I should cite myself--as an expert--in the paper I intend on turning in. Self-plagiarism is an oxymoron, and it is stifling to the undergraduate or graduate student who enjoys research, revision, and editing. It is just a bully tactic aimed at the LAZY student who just wants to get out of doing hard work and fully engaging the literature.

54. purpleadnil - October 12, 2010 at 12:09 am

It's technically not plagiarism if one cites oneself.

55. 22212270 - October 12, 2010 at 12:33 pm

When nearly identical articles are published in different journals, the cloned publication pages take from the academic community the opportunity to disseminate the fresh, new scholarship of others. When such cloned articles are submitted for review and publication without acknowledging or referencing one another, self-plagiarism has occurred. It's sad that such insensitivity is condoned by professional colleagues.

56. zethre - October 16, 2010 at 12:46 am

I honestly don't see what much of the problem with re-using papers is, however, I must stress that the student should get in contact with both professors regarding re-use of certain portions of the paper, while still updating it with more relavent evidence not availible at the time of previous submission. Especially for fast moving fields such as inquiry into Computer Science/Information Technology/Robotics and any other "current" field, due to the rapid obsolescence of technologies and methods in these fields.

57. avalongod - October 18, 2010 at 10:03 am

To me, the very notion of "self plagiarism" is somewhat absurd, and indication of just how nutty academia has become on the topic. To be sure, publishing the same data twice, the first source needs to be referenced, and it needs to be made clear to all involved (editor, reviewers, reader) that some sort of double presentation occurred. But a paragraph describing a previous study...it say you have to rewrite said paragraph over and over each time you reference it in a different paper...that's rather silly.

As to students reusing paper, I have no problem with that at all. I certainly wouldn't call it plagiarism, even if a course professor doesn't allow it. The person who wrote the paper automatically owns the copyright to it (no matter how God awful said paper may be). Thus it is not possible for them to "plagiarize" themselves. Again if the particular professor forbids "double dipping" that's fine...and trying to sneak a paper past that is naughty, but its a different naughy.

58. 11211250 - October 18, 2010 at 10:54 am

In regards to copying other institutions' policies, I would say that notmdoing so is a waste of time and money. First of all policies are normally compilations of terms and phrases that are legally acceptable and proven to be effective in risk management. To vary from what is acceptable practice can be an irresponsible and negligent act for a university officer. Second, policies normally have no author, but again are compilations of the thoughts and ideas of sometimes hundreds of individuals that have drafted and edited and re-edited and altered and reviewed and rewritten, etc., ad nauseum. Third many university policies must be based on government regulations. The government gives permission to all to use the language word for word without attribution. In fact you could put your institution at risk if you try to get creative with the language. Fourth, who cares? Seriously, policies are mindless and mind numbing strings of words that are intentionally vague and open to interpretation because that ambiguity is the only way you can get them to pass through university committees. Otherwise no policy would ever get established because faculty senates would never pass them. A clear policy is an oxymoron. Why else would so many people be arguing about "self-plagiarism" in the first place.

59. 11186108 - October 18, 2010 at 01:54 pm

NC State University has a different stance on students resubmitting prior work - see the last sentence
8.3 The act of submitting work for evaluation or to meet a requirement is regarded as assurance that the work is the result of the student's own thought and study, produced without assistance, and stated in that student's own words, except as quotation marks, references, or footnotes acknowledge the use of other sources. Submission of work used previously must first be approved by the instructor.
A violation falls under "Academic Dishonesty".

60. 11186108 - October 18, 2010 at 02:18 pm

About reusing one's own work - instead of the "whole paper" - what about a sentence or three? When I'm writing in the same general area, I'm sure that I'll use similar phrasing and sentences for those same aspects. Even without cut & paste there are almost certainly going to be enough material for turnitin to "catch" - just because the same person is writing!

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