Reuse in STEM research writing

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<jats:title>Abstract</jats:title> <jats:p>Text recycling (hereafter TR), sometimes problematically called “self-plagiarism,” involves the verbatim reuse of text from one’s own existing documents in a newly created text – such as the duplication of a paragraph or section from a published article in a new article. Although plagiarism is widely eschewed across academia and the publishing industry, the ethics of TR are not agreed upon and are currently being vigorously debated. As part of a federally funded (US) National Science Foundation grant, we have been studying TR patterns using several methodologies, including interviews with editors about TR values and practices (<jats:xref>Pemberton, Hall, Moskovitz, & Anson, 2019</jats:xref>) and digitally mediated text-analytic processes to determine the extent of TR in academic publications in the biological sciences, engineering, mathematical and physical sciences, and social, behavioral, and economic sciences (<jats:xref>Anson, Moskovitz, & Anson, 2019</jats:xref>). In this article, we first describe and illustrate TR in the context of academic writing. We then explain and document several themes that emerged from interviews with publishers of peer-reviewed academic journals. These themes demonstrate the vexed and unsettled nature of TR as a discursive phenomenon in academic writing and publishing. In doing so, we focus on the complex relationships between personal (role-based) and social (norm-based) aspects of scientific publication, complicating conventional models of the writing process that have inadequately accounted for authorial decisions about accuracy, efficiency, self-representation, adherence to existing or imagined rules and norms, perceptions of ownership and copyright, and fears of impropriety.</jats:p>






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Pemberton, Michael, Cary Moskovitz, Susanne Hall and Chris M Anson (2020). Reuse in STEM research writing. AILA Review, 33. pp. 120–135. 10.1075/aila.00033.ans Retrieved from

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Cary Moskovitz

Professor of the Practice in the Thompson Writing Program

Cary Moskovitz is Director of Writing in the Disciplines in the Thompson Writing Program. He also directs the Duke Reader Project and the Text Recycling Research Project.

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