The following information below is meant to be a helpful guide to understanding and navigating the rules on recycling the text. Please be mindful that no one should exclusively rely on these articles to make decisions regarding the reuse of information, materials, and others in an article. Be sure to consult your university counsel.
Researchers often have occasion to reuse material from their previously written documents in new documents. Examples of such occasions included reusing passages from one’s IRB protocol in a grant proposal, reusing literature review material from a grant proposal in a research report, reusing the description of an experimental apparatus from a research report in a new report that used the same apparatus, and reusing material from one’s published paper in one’s dissertation. All of these examples can be seen as cases of text recycling. It is difficult, however, to define text recycling in a way that is sufficiently broad to accommodate the range of such practices but also sufficiently narrow to be practically useful.
As a researcher, you may have occasion to reuse material from your own previously written documents in new documents. You might, for example, want to recycle passages from your approved ethical review protocol in a grant proposal, reuse some of the literature reviews from your grant proposal in a research article, or reuse the description of a procedure from one of your published articles in a news article that used the same procedure. While less common, you may also have occasion to translate your published work into another language or to republish your journal article as a book chapter. All of these examples can be considered cases of text recycling.
Unlike plagiarism, which is widely considered to be research misconduct1,2, text recycling may or may not be appropriate depending on how and where it occurs. In some cases, especially when it facilitates clear communication, text recycling can be ethical, professionally appropriate, legal, and perhaps even desirable. In other situations, text recycling may be unacceptable because it infringes copyright, violates a publishing contract, inhibits communication, or misleads editors or readers. This document will help you understand these differences.
Although researchers often have valid reasons to take text they have already published and reuse it in new papers, peers often frown on such recycling as “self-plagiarism.” But when Cary Moskovitz of Duke University, who studies the teaching of writing, went looking for guidance on self-plagiarism for his students, he came up empty-handed.
*Note Safe-D will review and run all reports through plagiarism software.