Plagiarism is a bad action, self-plagiarism is even worst

17 Feb

Redundant publication is dishonest.

The ethical code of journalism as well as literature code of honor banish heavily plagiarism as it is an important, wide-spread, well known malpractice. Journalists and writers are not alone; Scientists also put plagiarism in the top list of deadly sins. A great amount of texts has been written up today on how to handle this matter. But beside we have to keep in mind that scientists love to meticulously write a multitude of sophisticated rules (i.e.guidelines). Then they write papers on how to respect these rules (check lists of items). Then even more papers are published on who didn’t respect these rules and the various pattern of disrespect (retraction notices). Then back again to the beginning for adding some precisions or extensions to the initial rules and then the virtuous circle start again. One of those numerous written rules, which scientists affectionate, is the rule regulating the plagiarism. In scientific publication plagiarism is one of the highest sin in the scale of misconduct and dishonesty. Specific soft wares are run by editors on the pre-publication materials in order to reduce the risk of plagiarism before editing an article. Plagiarism includes a sub-category: self-plagiarism. What do scientific researchers mean when putting next one to another such apparently contradictory and opposed two terms? That’s what I will try to explicit below, if possible with simple words. Self-plagiarism occurs when a scientist publishes two or more different articles based on the same set of data (even if he added a few new units in one of the paper, the principal core of the data is the same in the two papers) and the same research question (or a very light difference between the research questions in the two papers). Why is self-plagiarism dangerous for the community (and hence considered as a sin)? There are four main reasons: First, scientific publication stem from the unpaid work of volunteers (i.e. the scientific readers of the submitted paper intended to issue an approved version) and consequently self-plagiarism lead to unnecessary overload of work for this readers; Second, meta analysis now uses sophisticated statistical tools which will be biased if two different articles based on the same set of data for the same outcome are included (thus giving twice more weight to the results than they deserve in term of evidence); Third, academic evaluation based on the number of publication will be deceived when counting two-time the same work; And four there will be automatically a moral infringement with regard to the reader because each article is assumed to be original. Another scientific misconduct very near from self-plagiarism is the salami-slice publication. A searcher is culprit of salami-slice publication when he publishes in two episodes a work that would have been published in one (analyses and results are simple enough for one single paper) without warning the reader in none of the two publications. Now you have no excuse if you are caught in self-plagiarism misconduct or if you salami-slice your papers.

This image shows a salame.

Image via Wikipedia

Works consulted (but not plagiarized) to write this post:

Kassirer JP, Angell M. Redundant Publication: A Reminder. N Engl J Med. 1995 Aug;333(7):449-450. Available from:


One Response to “Plagiarism is a bad action, self-plagiarism is even worst”


  1. How Plagiarism is ruining the Personal Brand | ShengyuanLi - May 24, 2015

    […] (source: Plagiarism is a bad action, self-plagiarism is even worst) […]

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