Indian Journal of Psychological Medicine
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Year : 2014  |  Volume : 36  |  Issue : 4  |  Page : 448-449  

Self-plagiarism: The latest ethical dilemma in biomedical research

Department of Psychiatry, AIIMS, New Delhi, India

Date of Web Publication15-Sep-2014

Correspondence Address:
Dr. Sundar Gnanavel
Department of Psychiatry, Fourth Floor Teaching Block, AIIMS, Ansari Nagar, New Delhi - 110 029
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Source of Support: None, Conflict of Interest: None

DOI: 10.4103/0253-7176.140763

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How to cite this article:
Gnanavel S. Self-plagiarism: The latest ethical dilemma in biomedical research. Indian J Psychol Med 2014;36:448-9

How to cite this URL:
Gnanavel S. Self-plagiarism: The latest ethical dilemma in biomedical research. Indian J Psychol Med [serial online] 2014 [cited 2020 Jun 5];36:448-9. Available from:


Self-plagiarism is the latest of the ethical dilemmas faced by bio-medical research community. It is defined as a type of plagiarism in which the writer republishes a work as a whole or reuses portions of a previously written text while authoring a new work. [1] Writers argue that they can use their work and can be used again as they require and self-plagiarism is an oxymoron because they are not taking any words or thoughts from others. However, the counter-argument holds that self-plagiarism can infringe upon a publisher's copyright. Traditional definitions of plagiarism do not account for self-plagiarism and hence authors may not be aware of ethics and laws involved in reusing texts.

The American Psychological Association (APA) differentiates plagiarism from self-plagiarism: "Whereas plagiarism refers to the practice of claiming credit for the words, ideas and concepts of others, self-plagiarism refers to the practice of presenting one's own previously published work as though it were new." [1] Republishing the same paper that is published elsewhere without notifying the reader nor the publisher of the journal; publishing a significant study as smaller studies to increase the number of publications rather than publishing one large study and reusing portions of a previously written (published or unpublished) text are some common types of self-plagiarism. [2]

Biomedical journals in particular have significant problems with copyright due to self-plagiarism and many have taken a stance against the practice in publication. Some journals have also started to request the author's previous manuscripts to ensure that the work is original. The APA has taken a recent position against the practice by addressing the issue of self-plagiarism in the latest edition, which was absent from previous editions. According to APA, "when duplication of one's own words is more extensive, citation of the duplicated words should be the norm" and "must conform to legal notions of fair use." [1]

Avoidance of splitting a large study into multiple smaller publications, appropriate citations and paraphrasing and awareness of copyright laws are measures that could potentially address this problem. Every researcher needs to be aware of this entity of self-plagiarism, which is among the hotly discussed ethical issues in bio-medical research community today.

   References Top

1.American Psychological Association. The Publication Manual of the American Psychological Association. 6 th ed. Washington, D.C.: American Psychological Association; 2010.  Back to cited text no. 1
2.Miguel R. Avoiding plagiarism, self-plagiarism, and other questionable writing practices: A guide to ethical writing, 2006. Available from: [Last cited on 2013 Aug 9].  Back to cited text no. 2


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