Academic Integrity: Self-Plagiarism


On the face of it, "self-plagiarism" seems like a contradiction in terms. How can you copy from yourself? The term, however, refers to submitting the same piece of work to fulfill two different assignments.

The issue with "self-plagiarism" (sometimes called "recycling fraud") is that you did not do what you said you did. If Professor Smith assigns a five-page paper and Professor Jones assigns a five-page paper, but you only wrote one, you did not actually write two papers, so you do not deserve credit for writing two papers. If you failed a course from Professor Brown, then retook the course from Professor Black and resubmitted papers from the first course, you were not doing the work assigned by Professor Black.

For us, here at Ashland University, we're bound by the Academic Integrity Policy which states, in part, that "Using a portion of a piece of work previously submitted for another course or program to meet the requirement of the present course or program without the approval of the instructor involved" is an example of "intentional falsification." This means that two different practices are forbidden:

  1. Submitting the same paper to two different instructors to fulfill two different assignments (without the permission of both instructors).
  2. Recycling a paper you previously submitted in an attempt to pass the course on the second time around.

The reason these are considered unethical is that academic degrees are awarded on the assumption that you have done a certain amount of work and mastered a certain body of learning. Double submissions defeat that purpose.

Wound Just A Bit Too Tight:
Is it plagiarism for me to copy my own notes into a paper?

No. If you came up with a brilliant idea for your introduction and wrote it down, you don't have to cite your own work. "Self-Plagiarism" refers to double submissions.

However, if you attend a lecture or interview someone and take notes, give proper credit to the source (the lecturer or the interviewee). MLA has a way to include this sort of item in the Works Cited page; APA does not, but you can still introduce the material in the body of your paper with a comment about the source.

Can I ever double-submit?

The answer is a very restricted "yes."

The same approach would apply if you want to submit a paper to attempt to pass a course on the second try. Don't do it unless your instructor has given you permission in advance.

The general rule here is to take this approach only if you have advance permission and the instructor(s) involved are very clear about what you are doing. Don't just drop the same paper into two courses and hope for the best or hit the instructor with a last second "Oh, by the way" comment. And, as I said above, you would be wise to get the permission in writing.

The views and opinions expressed in this page are strictly those of the page author.
The contents of this page have not been reviewed or approved by Ashland University.
Revised 6/26/20 • Page author: Curtis Allen • e-mail: