The issue about self-plagiarism among graduate students has been a hot topic among colleagues for some time. About a year and a half ago, my co-author and I embarked a journey to find out what the research said about it. We opted to conduct a scoping review, with a focus on social sciences broadly.
Our results were recently published in Interchange. The abstract below gives you some highlights and if you’re interested in more, the citation that follows has a link to view the entire article online.
Self-plagiarism is a contentious issue in higher education, research and scholarly publishing contexts. The practice is problematic because it disrupts scientific publishing by over-emphasizing results, increasing journal publication costs, and artificially inflating journal impact, among other consequences. We hypothesized that there was a dearth of empirical studies on the topic of self-plagiarism, with an over-abundance of editorial and commentary articles based on anecdotal evidence. The research question was: What typologies of evidence characterize the literature on self-plagiarism in scholarly and research journals? We conducted a scoping review, using the search terms “self-plagiarism” and “self-plagiarism” (hyphenated), consulting five social sciences research databases, supplemented by a manual search for articles, resulting in over 5900 results. After removing duplicates and excluding non-scholarly sources, we arrived at a data set of 133 sources, with publication dates ranging from 1968 to 2017. With an interrater reliability of over 93% between two researchers, our typological analysis revealed 47 sources (34.3%) were editorials; 41 (29.9%) were conceptual research (including teaching cases); 16 (11.7%) were editorial responses; 12 (8.6%) were secondary research; and only 8 sources (5.8%) were primary research. There is little guidance in the available literature to graduate students or their professors about how to disentangle the complexities of self-plagiarism. With primary and secondary research combined accounting for 14.4% of overall contributions to the data set, and primary research constituting only 6% of overall contributions, we conclude with a call for more empirical evidence on the topic to support contributions to the scholarly dialogue.
You can read a full copy of the article online here: https://rdcu.be/YR5u
Here’s the full citation for the Online First version: Eaton, S. E., & Crossman, K. (2018). Self-plagiarism research literature in the social sciences: A scoping review. Interchange: A Quarterly Review of Education, 1-27. Retrieved from https://rdcu.be/YR5u doi:https://doi.org/10.1007/s1078
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Sarah Elaine Eaton is a faculty member in the Werklund School of Education, University of Calgary, Canada.
Opinions are my own and do not represent those of the Werklund School of Education or the University of Calgary.