This does sound peculiar. How can you self-plagiarise? Self-plagiarism or auto-plagiarism can be a difficult notion to grasp.
Self-plagiarism is when you re-submit work that has already been submitted and assessed for another course, module or assignment. Auto-plagiarism is when you re-use previously written work in a new piece of work, and do not acknowledge when you’ve done so.
It could be argued that self-plagiarism is usually intentional. Auto-plagiarism is usually a misunderstanding of how to acknowledge your sources of information.
Consider if you have worked on a piece of research and you write a report about that research, including data, and a description of an adaptation of a method you used. You then do some further work using that method and data, and develop the method so that your results improve. You decide to write another report – this report is based on work you have already done, and in order to show your readers the development of the method, you will have to acknowledge your previous work. So your second report will include an acknowledgement to your first report.
‘Some people argue that self-plagiarism is impossible by definition because plagiarism is theft and people cannot steal from their own work. But, this is not correct in law. There are circumstances, such as insurance fraud, embezzlement, etc., when it is possible to steal from oneself.‘
Hexham, I. (1999) The plague of plagiarism. [Online] Available from:http://c.faculty.umkc.edu/cowande/plague.htm#self [Accessed 6th July 2009].
Things to remember:
- if you use material from a previous piece of work you must reference it appropriately
- never use the same assignment for different lecturers
- if re-sitting a course do not submit the same assignment/s