Education Coffeehouse

Earth Day Everyday

How to Avoid

How to Avoid Self-Plagiarism

"Professor Marsha, it is IMPOSSIBLE to plagarize yourself!"

That is a myth. Many students find self-plagiarism a difficult concept to understand. I get that! Many believe that previously written works, as property of the author, should be allowed for subsequent submission. I understand this completely! And, there are acceptable reasons and ways in which previously written work MAY be recycled into subsequent writings. This exhibits academic maturity.

Many students argue that intent must be given consideration when citing someone for suspected plagiarism. Yes, it can be difficult to determine intent in the case of suspected plagiarism. Until you are more comfortable with the process, it is always prudent to "over-cite" instead of "under-cite' to clearly demonstrate intent to give proper credit. Inaccurate citations can be corrected. Lack of citation can result in a plagiarism charge. You can avoid the appearance of plagiarism by providing credit for information taken from outside sources, even if the technique is not quite accurate.

In addition, many students believe academic integrity policies are in place to catch cheaters. Quite the contrary. Academic integrity policies provide students with protection against the theft of their hard work but do not prevent the use of previous work from being properly reused when appropriate. These guidelines are put in place to protect you.

So, if you have some awesome information you want to continue to study, CITE YOURSELF! Recent studies reflect that males tend to adopt this practice much more than females because they value their work more.

As far as educators are concerned, learning is to build upon previous learning. To use work written for a previous assignment demonstrates no growth. Each product is to be unique and original to the assignment.

Citing yourself demonstrates your understanding of the following critical skills:

  • Ability to build upon previous training and learning
  • Dedication to staying abreast of research changes
  • Commitment to growth in the understanding of ideas or concepts.
  • Application of appropriate basic research and citation principles

For information on common citation questions such as "How often do I have to cite," see this link.

Find a style guide online for EVERY known format! This link includes information on the uses of citation style according to learning and/or career discipline.

I hope you find this information helpful!


Learning should be challenging but not frustrating. I am happy to provide these stress-free suggestions for making your journey to success one to enjoy!

Join the conversation on my Facebook page: Education Coffeehouse: Encourage, Engage and Educate

~Professor Marsha

Every family needs assistance at times. Consider counseling that is private
and discreet, held online so you can relax in the comfort of your own home.

Maia Counseling Services, LLC

Licensed Professional Counselor, Individual and Family Counseling,
Creative Expression, Family Systems Therapy

Peaceful Innovations

Counseling Services by Afiya O. Burson
Washington, DC

More about Professor Marsha
LinkedIn Profile
Copyright 1999 -- 2015 Marsha Burson Bass, ABD
All content (graphics and text) are covered by U.S. Copyright Laws.
No reproduction of any kind, downloading, copy, paste, save, etc. is allowed
without expressed permission of the author.
All Rights Reserved