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Old 12-22-2009, 04:00 AM
Status: "Get prepared for President Harris" (set 2 days ago)
Location: Southern Willamette Valley, Oregon
8,808 posts, read 8,758,509 times
Reputation: 15144


OK, I was not sure whether to pose this question under "Writing" or "Education", but here goes.

This may sound like a dumb question, but from the many varying responses I have gotten from peers and teachers alike, it seems to be open for difference of opinion.

Is it unethical (or illegal) to re-submit a research paper for a class project that you previously submitted and had graded for anther class project at another school? This would mean turning in the exact paper content with the properly updated citations.

I, personally, do not think this is ethical, as it defeats the purpose of the assignment. At the same time, though, with a crazy work/school schedule mixed with lack of time, it could be quite tempting to do. I have been told by several people, including two teachers, that this action is perfectly acceptable, as long as it is entirely your own material, and the citations are in good order.

So, the question I pose is, can a person be guilty of plagiarization by re-submitting an identical paper written previously by one's self? And if this action is illegal or unethical, please list your reasoning.

Thank You in advance for all responses.
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Old 12-22-2009, 10:40 AM
Location: Aloverton
6,564 posts, read 12,943,669 times
Reputation: 10082
Plagiarization? Hardly. Whether it's academic misconduct is another question, but I don't see how so. It is your own original work. Academic misconduct usually revolves around trying to gain from someone else's original work.
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Old 12-22-2009, 12:40 PM
19,323 posts, read 58,649,110 times
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It seems ethical enough. When a scientist publishes in two different publications, he doesn't repeat his research. I suppose it might be unethical or illegal if in the intervening period of time you had found your conclusions to be factually incorrect and you made no attempt to correct the error when you re-submitted, but you covered that contingency.

"What is the purpose of assignments" is your real question. You haven't got a solid enough answer for that question, so you are instead are asking another question that will build a better understanding for you.

The primary purpose of an legitimate assignment is education and edification. If you are already educated in an area to the point that you are above the level of the assignment, the assignment serves no real purpose, and the time wasted on it can actually slow your growth. You need to bring such situations to the attention of the teacher. That is a problem for the teacher to grapple with, not you. If the teacher dismisses your concern or puts it off on you, find a better teacher.

If, however, there IS something that you are missing, and an assignment is designed to help you fill in that gap, regurgitating what you have previously done doesn't give you any growth.

Examples to ponder:

Say you had an assignment in shop class to build a birdhouse. You built it and presented it for a grade. You got a D. Another shop teacher in a different school then assigns the same project. Submitting your D project won't give you any growth in skills. You need to re-do the assignment from scratch.

Say your first birdhouse got an A+. You have gone on to building furniture. Another shop teacher assigns a birdhouse assignment to you. Submitting your previous project would allow you more time to study the properties of various glues and woods in your advanced furniture work, and you already know the concepts that were being taught in the birdhouse project. It makes sense to just submit the existing birdhouse again.

Say your birdhouse got an A+ again, and the situation is the same as above BUT you are not satisfied with your previous birdhouse and now have the knowledge on how to make it better, but no experience with that knowledge. Building a new birdhouse will further your own education, even beyond what the shop teacher expects or intends.

The key to all of this is that education is an INTERNAL process that uses external inputs and guidance. If you do well, it is entirely possible, and even expected, that you surpass your teachers. Hubris is thinking that you have reached that stage when you haven't. Respect is when you are at that stage and start guiding your own assignments in co-operation with your teachers. The teacher-student relationship must have mutual respect to function properly.
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Old 12-22-2009, 01:10 PM
Status: "Get prepared for President Harris" (set 2 days ago)
Location: Southern Willamette Valley, Oregon
8,808 posts, read 8,758,509 times
Reputation: 15144
Thank You for the response, harry. Just for the record, I would fall into your "example to ponder" #2. I fully see what you are getting at. You believe that a person would be cheating themself, not the institution, if they chose this course of action while still having room for improvement.

I have held a 3.9 GPA through my Junior year and feel that doing another 20 page research paper is just repetitive and time consuming. This assignment is for an advanced research writing class, but most of the project requirements are the same as the last. I am positive that the quality of my original paper will satisfactorily meet the requirements for this one as well. At this point, I just want to finish with my degree and get back to the professional working world. The recession is the main reason I decided to return to school in the first place.

Any other opinions out there?
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