Self-Plagiarism and Textual Recycling: Legitimate Forms of Research Misconduct

Samuel V. Bruton, University of Southern Mississippi


The concept of self-plagiarism frequently elicits skepticism and generates confusion in the research ethics literature, and the ethical status of what is often called textual recycling is particularly controversial. I argue that, in general, self-plagiarism is unethical because it is deceptive and dishonest. I then distinguish several forms of it and argue against various common rationalizations for textual recycling. I conclude with a discussion of two instances of textual recycling, distinguishing them in terms of their ethical seriousness but concluding that both are ethically problematic.