Self-Plagiarism, Text Recycling, and Science Education
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Academicians generally consider it unethical to reuse text from published work without explicit attribution. However, in practice, the conventions and ethics associated with reusing text vary considerably across academic domains and genres. Although it may be anathema in the humanities, certain types of reuse are both common and acceptable in contemporary scientific discourse. The boundaries of acceptable practice are complex, however, so there is a strong temptation to ignore the topic in educational settings. Because the fallout from innocent errors can be damaging, scientists must assume responsibility for determining what constitutes acceptable reuse in their domain and for instructing future scientists in these practices.
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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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