With all the shenanigans going on in Washington, it is fitting to write a newsletter tip on another ethical topic, plagiarism. Plagiarism is defined as the appropriation of another person’s ideas, processes, results, or words without giving appropriate credit (Office of Research Integrity). Most people think of plagiarism as copying other people’s words. But, plagiarism also includes self-plagiarism or copying your own words from published documents.
Why can’t you copy your own words? After all, it is your writing? The answer is found in the copyright release all authors sign when their article is accepted for publication. The copyright release gives the right to the language to the journal. This means you lose the right to reuse the language you have written verbatim. Hence, rewriting is in order.
It is difficult to rewrite a method, procedure, or paragraph you use in publications. Here is one possible solution:
Solution: If you need to use copy language to get started, use different colored font to distinguish your original writing from writing copied from another source. By the time the document is finished, all copied sentences should be rewritten and in the font color of the new document.
Don’t plagiarize or self-plagiarize. Use your own, new words!