We all are familiar with plagiarism: the act of passing off someone else’s work as your own. It is illegal, unethical, and turns research into a criminal act.  However, there is another variation of plagiarism that affects the quality of your research: self-plagiarism.

In this article, we will discuss self-plagiarism and four ways to avoid it in your research.

What Is Self-Plagiarism?

Self-plagiarism is the act of reusing your published content (or chunks of it) while passing it off as original work. Although not illegal, self-plagiarism is unprofessional and unethical. It comprises acts such as:

  • Resubmitting entire papers
  • Paraphrasing and copying from previous work
  • Separately publishing several articles on the same research
  • Recycling old data

Why You Should Avoid Self-Plagiarism?

Self-plagiarism is not as serious as plagiarizing someone else’s work. However, it’s still considered academic dishonesty. If readers detect self-plagiarism in your work, it can harm your reputation as an academic and lead to the following consequences:

  • Readers believe that you have a lack of interest in producing new work
  • You may be involved in copyright infringement if you are found reusing published work
  • It misrepresents your research and undermines academic integrity

Self-plagiarism misleads your readers, and you should avoid it as much as you can. In case you need to reuse previous ideas, data, or text, consider informing the readers that you are citing yourself.

4 Ways to Avoid Self-Plagiarism

Do Original Research

There is nothing wrong with writing about topics you have worked on before. However, writing again on similar topics may lead researchers to self-plagiarism. Often writers rely on old research when writing on topics similar to their previous work. They reuse old information and unknowingly repeat what they have written previously.

Even if you are well-versed on the subject, consider taking up research again. Doing research from scratch can help writers discover new insights and information. You may access information you didn’t have access to before. Likewise, it ensures that you don’t recycle old ideas and thoughts due to familiarity.

Starting research from scratch not only enables you to avoid self-plagiarism, but it also helps you improve the quality of your work.

Cite Your Previous Work

If it’s absolutely necessary to use previously published research, you must make sure that it’s cited. Just as with standard plagiarism, reusing content after acknowledging the author of the published work is not considered unethical. While doing so, ensure that you mention the date of your cited work alongside your paper to make verification easier.

You can cite previous work in the following formats:

APA Style
FormatAuthor last name, Initials. (Year). Title: Subtitle [Unpublished type of thesis or dissertation]. University Name. URL or DOI
Reference entryMachalski, J. (2018). The power of multiple channel marketing: The effect of different marketing channels on the buying behavior of online consumers [Unpublished master’s thesis]. Manchester University.
In-text citation(Machalski, 2018)
MLA Style
FormatAuthor last name, First name. TitleSubtitle. Year. University Name, type of thesis or dissertation.
Works Cited entryMachalski, Jadwiga. The Power of Multiple Channel Marketing: The Effect of Different Marketing Channels on the Buying Behavior of Online Consumers. Manchester University, master’s thesis.
In-text citation(Machalski, 15)
Chicago Style
BibliographyLast name, First name. “Title: Subtitle.” Type of thesis or diss., University Name, Year.

Machalski, Jadwiga. “The Power of Multiple Channel Marketing: The Effect of Different Marketing Channels on the Buying Behavior of Online Consumers.” Master’s thesis, Manchester University, 2018.

Full noteAuthor first name Last name, “Title: Subtitle” (type of thesis or diss., University Name, Year), Page number(s).

1. JadwigaMachalski, “The Power of Multiple Channel Marketing: The Effect of Different Marketing Channels on the Buying Behavior of Online Consumers” (master’s thesis, Manchester University, 2018), 15.

Short noteAuthor last name, “Shortened Title,” Page number(s).

2. Machalski, “Power of Multiple Channel Marketing,” 21.


Reframe Your Ideas

You may be required to research on an old topic, but for a different audience. In such a case, you could reframe the previously written passages, tailoring them to suit the new audience. Doing so allows you to reuse text without self-plagiarizing content.

You can consult the notes from your previous research to reframe ideas effectively. At the same time, consider adding pieces of information you have gathered from your new research and add them to your current body of work.

Consult an Editor

Sometimes, it’s difficult to realize that you are guilty of self-plagiarism. We may need someone else to detect self-plagiarism. A professional editor can help us identify whether we are being repetitive with our narrative and unconsciously reusing our previous work.

Self-plagiarism degrades the quality of research and weakens your authority as an academic. Edit911 offers you professional research editing service, carried out by PhD editors and published authors. If you want to learn more about our services, don’t hesitate to visit our website.