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Author: Patrick M. Scanlon
Title: Song From Myself: An Anatomy of Self-Plagiarism
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Source: Song From Myself: An Anatomy of Self-Plagiarism
Patrick M. Scanlon

vol. II, 2007
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Song From Myself: An Anatomy of Self-Plagiarism

Patrick M. Scanlon



Self-plagiarism raises knotty conceptual, legal, ethical, and theoretical questions. This essay provides an extended definition of self-plagiarism, reviews the case law regarding self-plagiarism in copyright infringement, examines the ethics of self-plagiarism, considers self-plagiarism relative to postmodern critiques of authorship and originality, and concludes, finally, that we do and should give writers legal and ethical latitude for limited self-copying, although certainly not for egregious duplication. This leeway for authors fits well within a more general ambivalence toward plagiarism, an uneasiness born of definitional, moral, and theoretical uncertainty.

I often quote myself. It adds spice to my conversation. George Bernard Shaw

Recently I served on a small committee asked to review charges of self-plagiarism brought against two faculty members. The accused had co-authored two papers based on data from a single large survey. Presented at separate conferences, the papers were subsequently published in academic journals and were under review and in press at roughly the same time, and neither article cited the other. The articles covered similar ground, but each focused on a different sub-set of data gathered in the survey, and the theses were different. The charges of self-plagiarism were based on the fact that substantial sections of text appeared verbatim or were nearly identical in both, specifically in parts of the introductions, literature reviews, and descriptions of the survey and research methods. However, the statistical analysis and findings of each, that is, their original contributions to scholarship and the bulk of the essays, were distinctive and did not share any common strings of text.

Committee members were unanimous in finding that what we had before us did not constitute academic fraud. Because the topics were so closely related and the analyses were based on data from a common source, the repetition of text, particularly in those sections describing previous research and research methods, seemed legitimate and, in fact, is not uncommon in published studies of this kind. The research context was nearly identical for both papers; reusing material that established that context for the reader was appropriate and in some cases perhaps unavoidable. The committee agreed that what was most important was the original contribution of each article. The committee members’ experience and backgrounds—we represented the fields of economics, physics and communication—as well as decidedly unscientific samplings of colleagues’ opinions, confirmed that recycling text in the manner of these authors accused of self-plagiarism was within accepted, if vaguely defined, practice, particularly as the two articles in question were submitted for publication almost simultaneously.

Still, the verbatim repetition between the articles was troubling, although calling it plagiarism did not seem to fit. Moreover, we continually came up against the same question: Can there be such a thing as self-plagiarism? The commonly held definition of plagiarism, passing off as one’s own the writings of another, appeared to rule out the offense in this instance, as the authors could not be accused of theft. The words were their own to begin with, and they had not attempted to gain any benefit from the work of others. Calling them self-plagiarists seemed merely to confuse the issue, like accusing someone of burglary for breaking into his own home because he had forgotten his key. Should we censure a writer for recycling his own writing?

“Self-plagiarism” is given cursory treatment in two prominent academic publication manuals. The MLA Style Manual and Guide to Scholarly Publishing (1998) deals with the transgression in one paragraph, warning readers that “professionals generally disapprove if previously published work is reissued, whether verbatim or slightly revised, under another title or in some other manner that gives the impression it is a new work” (p. 152, emphasis mine). This is unethical, although it is “not the same as plagiarizing someone else’s writing” (p. 152). These qualifications—generally disapproved of, not the same as plagiarizing from someone else—may be necessary, but they muddy the waters.

The Publication Manual of the American Psychological Association (2001) does not employ the term “self-plagiarism” within its section on the “Ethics of Scientific Publication.” However, that section does include a detailed treatment of “Duplicate publication of data” (pp. 351-354).

Whether the publication of two or more reports based on the same or on closely related research constitutes duplicate publication is a matter of editorial judgment. Any prior publication should be noted . . . and referenced in the manuscript, and the author must inform the journal editor of the existence of any similar manuscripts that have already been published or accepted for publication or that may be submitted for concurrent consideration to the same journal or elsewhere. (p. 352)

These injunctions apply to the case described above: the papers did not cite one another. This was a matter of concern within our committee; however, we saw the omission as a result of simultaneous drafting rather than intentional deception. Besides, this was not an instance of true duplication, because the papers used different sets of data, albeit from the same survey. Clearly, editorial judgment is critical.

In short, the nature of self-plagiarism is at best problematic, and we have reason to seek clarity. A writer may suffer continually from the anxiety of influence, from the suspicion that he has inadvertently or subconsciously copied from another. Such anguish can only be exacerbated if self-plagiarism is thrown into the mix. The more we write, the more likely we will reuse something—imagery, phrasing, a sentence, an anecdote, an entire argument—that has served us well in the past and which has become a part of our writing vocabulary. This self-copying could be more or less unconscious, but probably it is often an intentional part of the composition process, as we cull back through previous work for relevant matter. Word processing has no doubt increased this practice, as on our computers’ hard drives we keep folders of apposite notes and manuscripts within larger folders devoted to writing projects.

Self-plagiarism raises knotty conceptual, legal, ethical, and theoretical questions. What, precisely, is self-plagiarism? Does it infringe copyright? Most importantly, should it be considered an ethical lapse akin or equal to plagiarism of the usual sort, cribbing from the work of another? And how do notions of self-plagiarism fit within current debates over the contested nature of originality and authorship? The answers to these questions, which the following anatomy of self-plagiarism attempts to provide, suggests we do and should give writers legal and ethical latitude for limited self-copying, although certainly not for egregious duplication. This leeway for authors fits well within a more general ambivalence toward plagiarism, an uneasiness born of definitional, moral, and theoretical uncertainty.

Self-Plagiarism Defined

“Self-plagiarism” is a term with some specialized currency. Most prominently, it is used in discussions of research and publishing integrity in biomedicine, where heavy publish-or-perish demands have led to a rash of duplicate and “salami-slicing” publication, the reporting of a single study’s results in “least publishable units” within multiple articles (Blancett, Flanagin, & Young, 1995; Jefferson, 1998; Kassirer & Angell, 1995; Lowe, 2003; McCarthy, 1993; Schein & Paladugu, 2001; Wheeler, 1989). Roig (2002) offers a useful classification system including four types of self-plagiarism: duplicate publication of an article in more than one journal; partitioning of one study into multiple publications, often called salami-slicing; text recycling; and copyright infringement.

Duplicate or redundant publication is the practice of republishing all or substantial parts of an article for more than one audience, as when a piece is published first “in a general medical journal and then in a smaller specialty publication or vice versa” (McCarthy, p. 26). Articles also are republished in other countries or as sections of larger works (McCarthy, p. 26). Duplicate publication takes up valuable and much-sought-after space in highly selective journals, wastes editors’ time, and inflates researchers’ credentials (McCarthy, p. 26). Perhaps most importantly, however, redundant publication of data “can overemphasize the importance of findings” (Kassirer & Angell, p. 449), leading unsuspecting readers to overestimate the efficacy of interventions in clinical trials (Jefferson, 1998). That is, medical self-plagiarism actually can be dangerous.

The blame for duplicate publication, which has been a concern for some time within biomedical disciplines, is almost universally attributed to publish-or-perish demands and slipshod peer review. In a 1993 issue of The New Physician, the editor of the New England Journal of Medicine calls self-plagiarism “an enormous problem” (McCarthy, p. 25). In a study of 660 articles published in three top surgical journals in 1998, Schein and Paladugu (2001) found that “twenty or 3% were actual dual publications involving identical studies, and 50 or 7.6% were almost identical” (p. 658). Further, the authors conclude that “the incidence of redundant or frankly duplicate publishing is higher than is generally appreciated, with about 1 in every 6 original articles published in leading surgical journals potentially representing some form of redundancy” (p. 661).

Salami-slicing is achieved by cutting up the results of a study and publishing them in multiple articles. This practice is arguably less egregious than altogether redundant publication, but it can be misleading to readers, who may assume each article is derived from a separate study sample. Also, by publishing their study in slices, the author or authors deny their audience the opportunity to comprehend the study as a coherent whole. In fact, the authors in the case described in the introduction to this essay could be accused of salami-slicing, although a mere two slices hardly a sausage make. Besides, as noted earlier, the papers in question dealt with separate sub-sets of data from a single survey.

Regardless, why is salami-slicing included under the umbrella of self-plagiarism? Presumably because the salami-slicer will almost certainly repeat sections of one article in another and present each publication as unique when in fact it is part of a larger report. Moreover, publishing in this manner is ethically dubious because, as with duplicate publication, it constitutes a misrepresentation of an author’s output and appears to be little more than a means of adding heft to a c.v.

Text recycling is the copying of portions of one’s own previously published work, especially when studies include “almost identical methodology, literature reviews, discussions, and other similar or identical textual material” (Roig, 2002). This practice, which presents the most problematic instance of self-plagiarism, is the focus of the present discussion. It also brings to the fore the issue of copyright infringement, the fourth in Roig’s categorization of self-plagiarism.

Self-Plagiarism and Copyright Infringement

Important distinctions between plagiarism and copyright infringement often are blurred. In short, copyright infringement is a legal matter grounded in the economics of property; [1] plagiarism is an ethical failing based on theft and imposture. Yet, admonitions about copyright infringement are at the heart of many arguments concerning the ethicality of self-plagiarism. In an editorial in the Journal of Obstetric, Gynecologic, and Neonatal Nursing, Lowe (2003) describes instances when self-plagiarism may occur.

For example, in large research projects that have several research questions or aims, it is common to write more than one manuscript to report the study findings. The author(s) may be tempted to use the same review of the literature or procedures section in multiple manuscripts. Unless sections of the manuscript are included in quotes and references to the manuscript that was published first, the author(s) is engaging in self-plagiarism and violating the terms of the copyright agreement. It is just as unethical for an author to quote herself or himself without referencing as it is for the author to quote another individual’s material without appropriate citation. (p. 145)

In fact, Lowe’s essay focuses sharply on the terms of copyright, which authors transfer to many journals during the period of review (thus making simultaneous submissions not only unethical, at least from the journals’ perspective, but illegal). “Critical aspects of ethical publication,” writes Lowe, “are the principle of original work and the legal stipulations of copyright and copyright ownership” (p. 145).

Duplicate publication of an entire article will probably always constitute copyright infringement, unless the author owns the copyright, in which case the practice remains an egregious case of intellectual fraud. However, as a legal matter, self-plagiarism as an act of copyright infringement, specifically as related to text recycling, is an area more gray than black-and-white. First, copyright case law provides little guidance, because so few suits have been brought against self-plagiarists in the U.S. Moreover, only one of these, Gross v. Seligman (1914)—a case involving not writing but photography—was decided in favor of the copyright owner and against the original creator (Samuelson, 1994). (In a more recent case, songwriter John Fogerty, formerly of the band Creedence Clearwater Revival, successfully defended himself against charges of infringement for drawing on his own hit song, “Run through the Jungle,” the copyright for which is held by Fantasy Records, to write “The Old Man down the Road.” Guitar in hand, Fogerty convinced a jury that both songs were influenced by yet another tune. Accused of copying from himself, the artist effectively demonstrated the problematic nature of originality [Vaidhyanathan, pp. 129-131].)

Samuelson (1994) maintains that anyone who self-plagiarizes from work published in a professional journal when writing for another such publication—labor for which the author is not monetarily compensated in either case—would likely be shielded from publishers’ claims of copyright infringement. This would be the case because of the principle of fair use, which is determined employing four factors: (1) the purpose of the use, (2) the nature of the copyrighted work, (3) the amount used, and (4) the impact on potential markets for the copyrighted work.

The more noncommercial and research-oriented the purpose of the reuse, the more factual (as compared with fanciful or artistic) the nature of the copyrighted work, the smaller the quantum reused in relation to the work as a whole, and the lower the potential for meaningful economic harm to the owner of the copyright arising from the defendant’s activities, the more likely author reuse of his or her own material would be considered fair use. (Samuelson, p. 24)

In other words, unpaid authors may recycle some amount of their own work in subsequent publications without necessarily running afoul of copyright. Such reuse could be appropriate if, for example, an author copied text from his or her own literature review or description of research methods in one study in order to establish baseline knowledge required to understand the significance of findings in another. What amount of self-copying is permissible? Samuelson cites anecdotal evidence of a “30% rule,” a rule of thumb that one may reuse as much as 30% of one article in another, but feels, understandably, this may be excessive and cautions against it. However, she calls the establishment of a legal upper limit a “grey zone” (p. 24).

What appears to tip the scales in favor of self-plagiarists is an ambiguous notion that authors have special rights to their words notwithstanding copyright. In reviewing the slender case law regarding self-plagiarists, Samuelson notes that in failed suits decided by judges, “one can detect in the judicial opinions written about them some sympathy with the plight of an author who returns to a familiar theme” (p. 23). One might add to this “plight” the likelihood of writing about the same topic in a similar way; of organizing an argument or analysis in the same fashion; and of reusing phrases, images, anecdotes or analogies the author has found particularly apt and effective in conveying a particular meaning. Leaving the legal domain for now, what are the moral objections to these practices?

The Ethics of Self-Plagiarism

If textual recycling is a “grey zone” in matters of copyright, its ethical features are even more shadowy. We recognize duplicate publication as academic misconduct because it presents an entire work as original when none of it is, and because redundant publication of data could do real harm. We consider salami-slicing as, at best, ethically suspect because this constitutes a misrepresentation of an author’s productivity and thus misleads those charged with evaluating the writer’s output, and it may mislead readers, who would benefit from understanding a study in its entirety. But the ethicality of selective self-copying from one manuscript to another is more ambiguous and often hinges on the amount of repetition, as with Samuelson’s “30% rule.” Roig notes the amount of allowable textual recycling “has not been generally addressed in the writing literature,” and that, of all the forms of self-plagiarism, “text recycling is perhaps the most problematic because few relevant guidelines exist” (2002). In a recent study of self-plagiarism in psychology journal articles, Roig (2005) concludes that text recycling may be “relatively common,” and characterizes this practice as a “more seemingly benign form of self-plagiarism,” the ethics of which is debatable (p. 44).

To map the ethical landscape of self-plagiarism, we must first cover more familiar territory, that of the moral injunctions against plagiarism itself. Our view of this terrain has become clouded recently, and the ground itself has shifted in the wake of postmodern reconceptualizations of, not only plagiarism, but also authorship and intellectual property.

Plagiarism, as noted above, encompasses two transgressions: theft and imposture. Because the plagiarist filches text he did not create and presents it as though he did, he is condemned for stealing and for false pretense. The plagiarist’s moral offense is in his lying and deception, which undermine trust, and in his failure to transform or acknowledge his sources, which dishonors the original author. Strong responses to these “crimes” are righteous anger in the face of an assault on selfhood. For example, Freedman declares plagiarism “an attack on individuality, on nothing less than a basic human right, to property, to identity” (1994, p. 517). Moreover, Mallon (1989) asserts that any unwillingness to respond with indignation to acts of plagiarism is itself a moral failing, signifying a lack of will. For writers not to care about plagiarism, states Mallon, "would mean that they had permitted themselves a loss of self-respect" (p. 237).

Moral condemnation of plagiarism often is centered on this alleged denial and destruction of the self—of the original author’s as well as the plagiarist’s. Illicit textual appropriation erases the border between writing selves and blurs the margins of originality. Yet, these notions of authorship and originality as related to plagiarism have themselves become sites of contention. For instance, Howard (1999) describes the moral foundation of authorship, as this supports notions of plagiarism, in order to deconstruct it: “For the representation of plagiarism, the most important property of authorship is that of morality. The property of morality is itself dependent upon the belief that originality, proprietorship, and autonomy are ‘natural truths’ about ‘real’ authorship, rather than cultural arbitraries. Therefore, the discourse of plagiarism often invokes these assumptions” (p. 100). Responding to Mallon directly, Howard (1999) writes that he “assumes that our ambivalence about plagiarism derives from a wavering moral fiber. I would propose that the ambivalence comes, instead, from the recognition that the modern academic economy of authorship is not a unified field and that it cannot by itself account for the way in which we compose” (p. 134). Howard’s overarching thesis, that authorship and plagiarism are not simple, self-evident verities but rather disputed constructs, is taken up by Andrea Lunsford, in the Foreword to Perspectives on Plagiarism and Intellectual Property in a Postmodern World. There, Lunsford avers that contemporary concepts of plagiarism are new and “grow up right alongside the author construct, the intricate system of copyright, and the capitalist economy in which both are deeply implicated” (Buranen & Roy, 1999, p. xi).

These and other scholars writing in a similar vein do not, in fact, call for a definition of plagiarism so elastic as to make it meaningless, nor are they in favor of excusing egregious instances of cribbing. Rather, they ask that we reconsider, among other things, the moral basis for condemning all instances of textual appropriation. Their analyses and arguments have effectively blurred the line between acceptable copying and outright plagiarism—a line that was not razor-sharp to begin with—and called into question the related moral injunctions.

Perhaps we can make out plagiarism’s ethical contours more clearly by focusing on the harm done to others, namely, the plagiarized author and readers. As pointed out above, authors are dishonored when their work is appropriated without citation, when they are denied the recognition they are due. No doubt, such appropriation takes place often and in small ways that are never detected, so the plagiarized originators suffer no direct harm of which they are aware—the insult is indirect. The injury is to their reputation and is subtle, as it constitutes an act of omission: the original authors are not recognized as they deserve.

Acts of plagiarism affect readers in several ways. They are presented with material they believe is original, when it is not; they are denied a link to the true source of the information, which they assume they have before them; and they are duped into accepting the author’s credibility, which is undeserved. The harm to readers is no less real even if undetected: they are the victims of a lie.

In summary, plagiarism is condemned as a moral failing because the plagiarist is seen as a thief, a fraud, and, in a more attenuated sense, someone who erases the boundaries that define and delimit the originating self. In terms of harm to others, plagiarism is unethical because it dishonors authors and diminishes their work, and deceives readers.

What, then, of text recycling, the least egregious and most problematic of the four types of self-plagiarism? What is the ethical nature of authors’ reusing text from their published writing? Or, approaching this problem from another direction, who is harmed?

First, the self-plagiarist is a thief only in that he steals from himself. The comparison used earlier was of someone accused of burglarizing his own home, a seeming impossibility: what the author “takes” is already his (leaving aside the matter of copyright, of course). But this analogy is strained in the case of self-plagiarism, because the matter is not confined to theft alone but also includes imposture, in this case the presentation of material as original when it is not, even if it was original with the current author. The ethical crux of self-plagiarism seems to be the extent to which the words before us are original not only with the present author, unless otherwise noted, but with the present publication as well.

Yet, many authors return to themes and arguments presented in earlier publications, and perhaps all of us reuse anecdotes, analogies, and apt phrasing. However, as with questions of copyright infringement in self-plagiarism, the amount of recycling comes into play—albeit inconclusively—in determining ethicality. Reusing a several-sentences-long anecdote may be permissible; cutting and pasting whole pages almost certainly would not be. If for no other reason, we would fault the writer with laziness and padding. In this sense, the imposture of self-plagiarism consists of bearing false witness to original creativity, and its ethicality is a matter of degrees.

In some instances, originality seems much less important than in others. Within subsequent or simultaneous publications on the same or similar topics, an author might recycle some introductory background material, literature review text, and, where appropriate, study methods descriptions. In fact, as these sections are foundational to the more substantive analyses and arguments of the separate papers, any significant alterations from one publication to the next could actually be a source of confusion for readers. “Because even subtle misinterpretations of methodology could conceivably lead to a failure to replicate a study, the rewriting of a technically complex method section may be undesirable in some cases” (Roig, 2005, p. 48). What is more important is not the originality of the prose. It is the unambiguousness of baseline information.

In the case of arguably acceptable text recycling as described here, readers do have the original material before them, in prose written by the current author. That it is copied, more or less, from the author’s previous work may not necessarily subtract from its value in the present context. However, that material is not truly original, and in this respect the reader is, strictly speaking, deceived. Here, once again, we come up against the problematic determination of an allowable amount of textual recycling. Readers are apt to be troubled by wholesale cutting and pasting between manuscripts should they discover that copying on their own. Thus, the author should consider the extent of text recycling and whether that usage calls for a citation if for no other reason but that it is so extensive. More importantly, though, the writer must take into account the benefit to the reader of being directed to the prior document. In cases of plagiarism, the absence of a signpost pointing toward the original source denies readers an opportunity to expand their understanding of the topic. The ethicality of recycling our own writing without citation depends to some degree on whether readers will profit from seeing the original.

These cautions and qualifications notwithstanding, we might reasonably ask whether using “self-plagiarism” to describe limited and selective authorial recycling takes notions of textual ownership to a nearly absurd extreme. Are we grown so hysterical over the protection of text as property that we condemn writers as word-thieves and frauds for merely repeating themselves? Of Roig’s four types of self-plagiarism, two stand out as clearly wrong: duplicate publication and multiple salami-slicing are deceptive and in some instances, at least, fraudulent. Copyright infringement is more problematic; however, this is, strictly speaking, a matter of the law and not necessarily morals. But limited text recycling is much more ethically ambiguous, so much so that its examination brings into sharper focus our ambivalent response to plagiarism itself.

Self-Plagiarism as a Subversive Act?

Postmodern critiques of authorship and originality can and often do lead to an undermining of the very idea of plagiarism. For example, Howard argues, “If there is no originality and no literary property, there is no basis for the notion of plagiarism” (1995, p. 79). Extending this argument into the topic of self-plagiarism: If the Author is dead and all that is left is the never completed, always becoming text, then recycling words that are only problematically ours to begin with hardly seems a punishable offense. In his examination of originality as implicated in copyright, Rose asks, “Where does one text end and another begin? What current literary thought emphasizes is that texts permeate and enable each other, and from this point of view the notion of distinct boundaries between texts...becomes difficult to sustain” (1994, pp. 54-55). How much more difficult to sustain such boundaries between our own individually created texts.

Howard (1999) pursues a similar line of reasoning concerning boundaries and intertextuality with her concept of “patchwriting.” For student writers, this practice involves the “patching” or stringing together of quotes by various authors to construct a paper, a composition method that familiarizes the novice writer with arguments and techniques but is clearly not an exercise in originality, except insofar as the resulting bricolage is unique. However, given the contested nature of originality and authorship, Howard extends this strategy to encompass all prose.

First, I would assert that all the writing we all do all the time is patchwriting. Second, I would suggest that at some level we all know or at least suspect that all writing is patchwriting. . . . Hence, we do not pursue professional writers for occasional textual indiscretions . . . because what they have done is only to make obvious the manner in which all of us necessarily write. (1999, p. 14)

On this theory, self-plagiarism becomes but one more instance of the inevitable borrowing from and expanding on the works of others, in this case our(former)selves. At least, recalling the case law encompassing self-plagiarism and copyright infringement, we should make special allowances for self-patchwriters.

If this analysis seems to take the discussion of plagiarism from apologia to valorization, this would not be out of step with the direction of some current theory. For example, Randall (2001) names as “guerrilla plagiarism” the “self-conscious display of the absence of subjecthood” and “the flagrant contestation of the institutional and legal apparatus for determining the nature of art and authorship” (p. 221). If plagiarism can be a subversive act, self-plagiarism could be viewed as the postmodern author’s last stand in the face of oppressive cultural forces of proprietorship. By recycling their own texts, writers deny, paradoxically, the very notion of textual ownership. But we have entered here a sort of theoretical hall of mirrors, where we are confronted with a confusion of putative source-authors, all of whom look like us. This is rather more paradox than the already paradoxical topic will bear.

Still, what the anatomy of self-plagiarism reveals is that our expectations concerning originality are flexible, ethically as well as legally. After all, even the best among us break into their own prose houses, as Joseph J. Ellis (1998) reveals about Thomas Jefferson.

Even if we take Jefferson at his word, that he did not copy sections of the Declaration from any particular books, he almost surely had with him copies of his own previous writings, to include Summary Views, Causes and Necessities and his three drafts of the Virginia constitution. This is not to accuse him of plagiarism, unless one wishes to argue that an author can plagiarize himself. It is to say that virtually all the ideas found in the Declaration and much of the language, especially the grievances against George III, had already found expression in those earlier writings. (p. 64)

Does Jeffersonian self-plagiarism in this instance even matter? In fact, Ellis’s qualification—“unless one wishes to argue that an author can plagiarize himself”—is an apt expression of a more general doubt and ambivalence about the supposed transgression itself. We do and should give writers legal and ethical latitude for limited self-copying, although certainly not for egregious duplication. This leeway for authors fits well within a more general ambivalence toward plagiarism, an uneasiness born of definitional, moral, and theoretical uncertainty. [2]


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1. That copyright as presently understood is grounded in property rights does not mean that it should be, as Siva Vaidhyanathan argues in Copyrights and Copywrongs: The Rise of Intellectual Property and How it Threatens Creativity (New York: New York University Press: 2001): “It is essential to understand that copyright in the American tradition was not meant to be a ‘property right’ as the public generally understands property. It was originally a narrow federal policy that granted a limited trade monopoly in exchange for universal use and access. Lately, however, American courts, periodicals, and public rhetoric seem to have engaged almost exclusively in ‘property talk’ when discussing copyright” (11).

2. The final two sentences are copied, verbatim, from the last paragraph in the introduction.

Patrick M. Scanlon is a professor and coordinator of undergraduate degree programs in the Department of Communication at Rochester Institute of Technology, where he has also served as Institute Writing Director and Chairman of Humanities. Scanlon has presented papers and published articles on English Renaissance literature, fiction, literacy, technical writing, technical communication education, the teaching of writing in distance learning programs, technical graphics, and Internet plagiarism among college students.