What Is Self-Plagiarism?

Normally you might associate plagiarism as simply being an action where you are taking someone else’s work and making it look as though it was your own. But you could also do the same to any other forms of work that you have completed in the past. This involves a process known as self-plagiarism and it is an illegal activity.

Direct Copying

Self-plagiarism works in that you might take a prior paper that you have written and could copy the content from that paper in your new one. In many cases this might entail directly copying the content. Many writers do this as a means of trying to save time on the writing process.

This is not only illegal but also a sign that you might not be doing enough work for your paper. You might assume that whatever you have said in the past about a certain topic is good enough for your work but in reality it is not enough to work with.

Lack of Sourcing

Another form of self-plagiarism involves taking your old work and adding it into a new paper without sourcing it. You will have to source your old work in the new paper that you are writing. Although this might sound unusual, you have to show that your prior work is being used as a means of forwarding the paper you are writing.

Sourcing would have to work for any bit of material you are trying to add no matter how minute it might be. You have to source the content you are working with or else you will be at risk of being rejected.

How to Avoid Self-Plagiarism

There are a number of things you can do in order to keep self-plagiarism from being a threat:

  • Aim to create as much unique content in your next project as possible. The old research you used should only work to help create a base to which you are going to find new content from.
  • Always use proper quotations and reference marks on any old content that you are using. This includes any content that you have written in the past.
  • Limit any old content that you have written into an early section like a literature review. The old content can be used as a background but it is best to avoid trying to base much of your work off of what you have written in the past.

Remember that just because some prior work that you have created will still be subject to plagiarism concerns. You must make sure you cite your old work properly and are cautious when writing so you can avoid the threat of self-plagiarism before it can be a serious concern in your work.