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When writing about their latest discoveries, scientists often reuse material from their old publications. They might recycle carefully crafted language on a complex molecular process or copy and paste multiple sentences — even paragraphs — describing experimental methods or statistical analyses identical to those in their new study.
“Text recycling, also known as self-plagiarism, is an incredibly widespread and controversial issue that researchers in almost all fields of science deal with at some point,” said Cary Moskovitz, Ph.D., during a June 11 seminar sponsored by the NIEHS Ethics Office. Unlike stealing other people’s words, the ethics of borrowing from one’s own work are more ambiguous, he said.