Self Plagiarism: Fact or Fiction?

self-plagairsmDaejah Woolery ‘18
EE Staff Writer

The Oxford English Dictionary defines plagiarism as “the practice of taking someone else’s work or ideas and passing them off as one’s own.” For many of us the first time we hear the word is in middle school; then the word is cutting, terrifying, and constant. The truth is that by the time we sit down in freshman foundations it’s a joke. With sources like the plagarism checker, it’s getting harder and harder to plagiarize, yet every year thousands of kids are caught and even more get away with it. But what about taking your own work? Is it still plagiarism if you use an essay from one class for another?

Self plagiarism or “recycling fraud” is re-using your own work in another place or for another purpose without referencing or citing that fact. Going back to the definition, we are faced with a double negative of taking your own ideas and passing it off as your own, so… telling the truth.

Most students agree with the opinion that you can’t steal your own work or, as Jenna Zakhour says, “I can just give myself permission to use it.” In fact, not a single student interviewed agreed with the seemingly arbitrary rule, however teachers responded differently.

THS English teacher Mrs. Shupp believes that if an assignment is multifaceted enough it may be possible but only in rare cases.
“If a student talked to me about it we could make sure the assignment fulfilled what was required and was up to par,” says Shupp. “An essay from freshman year shouldn’t be on the same level as senior year so it could be adjusted. I think the best case scenario would be to discuss it with the teacher first.”

Whether you believe it’s fact or fiction, the threat of expulsion looms over the head of anyone who dares to even consider copy and paste. Senior Emma Kozinn believes that, “because it is my own ideas, I think I should be able to use it any way I want.” There’s a lot of truth in her statement, but while we deserve to be entitled to our own ideas, we can’t expect to have complete reign over when we can use them in assignments. Like the B.Y.O.D. policy, it falls in the hands of teacher, and you can only know their decision by talking to them first.

Be sure to check and respect their rules before you assume the use of old work is okay; you just might get caught stealing from yourself!

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