Monday, February 04, 2008

Self-plagiarism

Read in a newspaper report: "The explosive growth of scientific literature on the Internet makes plagiarizing and duplicating one’s own work (self-plagiarism) easier and easier".
I do not understand this sentence, for what is self-plagiarism? It sounds as if it is possible to steal one’s own thoughts. Is it so that I have to give account for a thought that I once had and that I use again, for the simple reason that I repeat it? Not for the fact that it is a thought that can cause damage to other people, that is disgusting, or that nobody understands, or something like that. No, this quotation suggests that I have to give account of a thought of my own for the simple fact that it has once been expressed or written down, independent of the fact that it is I myself who has expressed or written it. What a stupid idea. It looks as if I am not allowed to repeat myself without consent and that there is an independent body that can prescribe what I am allowed to say twice (for example the publisher of a journal or book where I had written down my thought for the first time?). Isn’t that the end of freedom? Isn’t the word self-plagiarism a contradiction in terms?

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