Plagiarism \u2013 copying someone else\u2019s work or words without crediting them \u2013 is bad. We know this. It\u2019s dishonest. It\u2019s unfair. And it can lose you marks on your university work. But what about self-plagiarism? Is this a problem? And how can you \u2018copy\u2019 yourself anyway? Let\u2019s take a look.\r\nWhat Is Self-Plagiarism?\r\nAt its most basic, 'self-plagiarism' means using the same work in two places. Often, it also means presenting old work as if it were new.\r\n\r\nFor instance, imagine a journalist submitted two versions of the same piece to separate publications. They could change the title and rearrange things slightly to make it less obvious, but the overall content is very similar. This is known as duplicate publication and breaks rules against self-plagiarism.\r\n\r\n[caption id="attachment_12830" align="aligncenter" width="418"] Real plagiarism is rarely this obvious.(Photo: RyanMinkoff\/Wikimedia)[\/caption]\r\n\r\nWe can imagine something similar happening with a student\u2019s university work. Say, for example, you were writing your dissertation on a topic you\u2019d already touched on in a previous essay. You might be tempted to copy that part of the essay and reuse it in your dissertation. But if you did this, you could be accused of submitting the same work twice, which is self-plagiarism.\r\n\r\nThe key in both cases is that a writer is presenting old work as if it were new. You may not mean to deceive anyone. But unless you acknowledge that you\u2019re using the same material in two places, it could be interpreted as self-plagiarism. And this could lose you marks on your work.\r\nIs It a Problem?\r\nShort answer: Yes! Most universities have rules against self-plagiarism. And if you\u2019re found to have submitted the same work twice, you may lose out on valuable marks. In addition, anti-plagiarism tools like Turnitin \u2018remember\u2019 everything they scan. As a result, if you submit a paper that reuses part or parts of an old essay, it could get flagged as plagiarism by a computer.\r\n\r\nFor published writing, the issue also strays into copyright. For instance, if you have already published the results of an experiment in one journal but you try to submit a similar paper to another journal, you may be violating the copyright of the first journal (even though it is your own work).\r\n\r\nAnd if a journal or publisher spots self-plagiarism, it will at best delay publication. As such, you should never deliberately reuse material without checking whether you are allowed to do so first.\r\nHow to Avoid Self-Plagiarism\r\nIt is easy enough to avoid self-plagiarism if you follow a few simple rules:\r\n\r\n \tCheck your university\u2019s website for guidance on self-plagiarism. You can also check your style guide for advice on citing previous work.\r\n \tNever copy and paste text from a previous essay into a new one. If you need to go over the same ideas, find a new way to express them.\r\n \tIf you reuse ideas from a previous essay, acknowledge them (e.g. add a footnote \u2018citing\u2019 your previous essay, even if it is not a formal citation).\r\n \tAsk your supervisor or course tutor if you are unsure regarding whether you can reuse something from a previous essay.\r\n \tIf you want to publish part of your dissertation or thesis, make sure both your university and the journal you are submitting you will allow this.\r\n \tIf you have published research somewhere, check who owns the copyright before submitting a similar paper elsewhere. And if you do refer to work you\u2019ve published elsewhere, make sure to cite it clearly.\r\n\r\nAnd if you are working on an essay, don\u2019t forget to have it proofread. Our expert editors can even check that your referencing is clear and consistent, helping you to avoid any accusations of plagiarism.