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Avoiding plagiarism, self-plagiarism, and other questionable writing practices: A guide to ethical writing

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Copyright Infringement, fair use, and plagiarism


Guideline 12: Because some instances of plagiarism, self-plagiarism, and even some writing practices that might otherwise be acceptable (e.g., extensive paraphrasing or quoting of key elements of a book) can constitute copyright infringement, authors are strongly encouraged to become familiar with basic elements of copyright law.

The use of relatively short direct quotes from a published work does not usually require permission from the copyright holder as it typically falls under the “fair use” provision.However, extensive quoting of text from a copyrighted source can constitute copyright infringement, whether the appropriated text is properly enclosed in quotation marks or correctly paraphrased, even if a citation is provided according to established scholarly conventions.Obviously, the same applies if the material is plagiarized outright.Moreover, the reader should note that intellectual or artistic work does not need to be published in order to be copyrighted.In fact, the moment the work becomes final it is automatically copyrighted.Thus, instances of plagiarism, whether from a published article or an unpublished manuscript, such as a grant proposal, can also constitute copyright infringement, though, obviously, copyright infringement does not always constitute plagiarism.

Iverson, et al., (1998) cautions the reader that the amount of text that can be taken from a copyrighted source without permission depends on its proportion to the entire work.However, the reader should also note that some publishers have established word limits for borrowing text. For example, according to the Publication Manual of the American Psychological Association (APA), authors who wish to borrow text of more than 500 words from a published APA publication must seek permission from the APA.

Given the above considerations, it should be clear that redundant or duplicate publication, which occurs without the respective editors’ knowledge, is not only considered a form of self-plagiarism, but it may also qualify as copyright infringement because the copyright is held by the publisher; not by the author.This would certainly be the case if the original article were published in a journal owned by one publisher and the second article were to appear in a journal owned by a different publisher.




 
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