Self-plagiarism polling: Is it OK, misconduct, or depends?

Potential self-plagiarism is a hot button issue right now in scientific publishing.

Is it ever OK to reuse your own published data or words?

Should it be considered misconduct if you don’t acknowledge it?

If you acknowledge re-use of your own words or data/images is that re-use still a problem?

Or should we not even be calling it “self-plagiarism” because it is so minor an issue?

What do you think?

Take our polls below.

2 thoughts on “Self-plagiarism polling: Is it OK, misconduct, or depends?

  1. Ha!, Paul you have a knack for making me feel like I must be some sort of “other”

    Reuse of data/images would seem to be fine in at least two circumstances: (1) in a review paper, (2) in a manuscript which uses the old data/image in order to illuminate previously unpublished science. Using the old data to examine a new theory is just as honourable as testing an old theory with new data — or, for that matter, using new method(s) to relate old data to an old theory. In all these cases it would be very bad form not to provide references — regardless of whether it’s your data/image/method/theory or someone elses.

    Words are a more ambiguous matter. How many words? Sometimes a few words might have wide currency and be more a matter of common knowledge — just as some mathematical equations are. I’d say that roughly the same rules would apply to words as to equations. A reference is critical unless the matter at hand is common knowledge for the intended audience.

    Unless there is blatant bad intent, it’s not worth fussing over. Who hasn’t made the odd referencing mistake?

    Things always get crazy when attempts are made to legislate what should be commonsense. The rules have to be somewhat fuzzy and I bet my attempt above is very “incomplete”. I further bet that it would be impossible to even get scientists to agree on a common definition of what science is!

  2. dr knoepfler,

    this is a somewhat unrelated request:

    given that there is controversy surrounding the legitimacy of the cloning of dolly, and how one of the journals changed its name several times: “Cloning was renamed in 2001 (unannounced) in the current year, first as Cloning and Stem Cells, later then as Cellular Reprogramming.”

    is it possible that you could give a somewhat high level overview of the relation of your work to cloning? for novices like me, knowing that cloning is fake gets me really excited and i want to learn (from scratch) more about this area (in rigorous scientific detail).

    it seems that stem cells and “cellular reprogramming” would have natural overlap (given that my leymans interpretation of a stem cell is a “blank cell” that could be “programmed” via some procedure), and given your great skills in communicating your passion, hopefully you could spend a blog post trying to tie the beginner concepts to cloning (or how cloning could be done in THEORY).


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