As the semester comes to an end and your final papers become due, you're probably getting stressed. After hours of writing and editing your paper for one class, you turn around and get ready to work on a new paper. When you read the prompt, though, you realize that it’s pretty similar. You decide it sounds like a pretty good idea to reuse some of the paper you just wrote to cut down on writing time for this one. That sounds good, right? Wrong!
This is called self-plagiarism, but it doesn’t really mean what you think it does.
When you think of plagiarism, you think of stealing something. So it doesn’t really make sense to “steal” something that is already yours, right? That’s why the 6th edition of the APA’s Publication Manual describes it as presenting your “own previously published work as new scholarship” (p. 16).
That doesn’t sound so wrong, so why is it?
Classes in college are a certain number of credits, usually three. And these three credits come from hands on labs, time spent in class, and number and type of assignments. The assignments that you complete must be acceptable to earn the three credits. But when you self-plagiarize and hand in the paper in two classes, you’re doing half the work you should be doing to earn the credits.
So while it sounds like good multitasking, it is actually very deceptive and could earn you a failing grade. Make sure you’re careful not to reuse any of your work again. If you need help deciding whether something is self-plagiarism, come see us at Writing Services, and we can help you!