Self-Plagiarism : Unethical Practices in Scholarly Publications

Is it wrong to reproduce one’s own content partially or completely in another publication? The answer is YES, although many people believe to the contrary.

Self-plagiarism is an unethical practice, and is almost as undesirable as plagiarism somebody else’s work. In the world of journal publications, self-plagiarism—or plagiarism for that matter—leads to two major problems: duplicate publications and simultaneous publications. Let’s look at these terms in greater detail.

Self-plagiarism or simultaneous submissions is an unethical practice.

Publication of a paper that has substantial similarities with a paper already published in some other journal is known as a duplicate publication. In duplicate publications, authors source the contents from a prior publication of their own or from the work of others without proper permission. When sourcing any information from published papers, it is mandatory for you to seek prior permission from the publishers as they often hold the copyright to the published paper and not the author of the paper. Another alternative is to use the reproduced information within double quotation marks and clearly indicate the original source. However, the latter solution will only work when the reproduced text is just a sentence or two and used to support your own text.

Submission of the same manuscript to two or more journals at the same time without informing the publishers is known as simultaneous submissions.It is considered as an ‘unethical publishing behavior’ because it could engender a copyright dispute. In addition, publishing the paper at two separate places leads to waste of resources of the publishers and the scientific and academic fraternity as a whole. However, a paper written in a particular language can be translated and published in a different journal after acquiring the necessary permissions.

Duplicate publications and simultaneous submissions have serious consequences. An author engaging in such unethical practices is liable to be summarily rejected by the publishers. Worse still, the offenders could be banned from submitting any paper in the future or blacklisted, which means that they will not be able to get their paper published in any journal.

The scholarly ability and integrity of authors come under the scanner when they use such illegitimate means to get their work published. It is very important to keep the dos and don’ts in mind while publishing a paper and follow the guidelines specified by the target journal. If information published elsewhere is critical for your own research, you need to ensure that you do not violate the time-honoured code of publication ethics. This is because honest and ethical publications area sine qua non for the development of the scholar community.

Is self-plagiarism ethical?

Research papers or journals are the medium of spreading knowledge and new ideas evolved. Innovative and original piece of work would certainly be more educative and admirable. Nevertheless, authors and writers are often found to be reusing their old piece of work or some extracts from their previous published papers while writing a new research paper.

When questions are raised against this content reuse, authors claim that those stuffs are their own works and materials, and thus, they can reuse them as they wish, and it cannot be termed as plagiarism since they have not stolen the ideas from any other author or source.

The ethics of plagiarism are not applicable to such reuse, as a result of which it has been overlooked till date. While the discussion is whether this reuse is ethical or not, the publications and the journals, on the other hand, have set certain guidelines for such works citing it as Self-plagiarism.

What is self-plagiarism?

Self-plagiarism is a form of plagiarism where the writer reuses his/her own previously published work in portions or entirely while creating a new study paper. It can breach the publisher’s copyright on those published work when it is reused in the new study papers without appropriate citations. Let us now know more about the ethical aspects of self-plagiarism.

Self-plagiarism can be detected when:

a)  A published paper is used to republish elsewhere without the consent of the co-authors and the publisher of the paper or work.

b)  A paper of a large study is published in small sections with an intention to increase the number of publications.

c)  A previously written work either published or not is reused again in portions in the new study papers.

Although the laws of self-plagiarism are not enforced, it somehow reflects the dishonesty of the author. Moreover, the journals and the publishers are rejecting such copy-paste works as they are seeking writings based on original research findings and proper citations of all the references.

Nowadays, journals are also pointing out questions on the reuse of one’s own work. In order to avoid self-plagiarism, one should try to keep his/her work original, and in case it is necessary to include any portion from his/her previous works, it should be then properly cited with proper references. I hope this article will surely help you in detecting prospective self-plagiarism before submitting your paper or work to publications or journals.