Chris Anson, Susanne Hall, Michael A. Pemberton & Cary Moskovitz. Reuse in STEM Research Writing: Rhetorical and Practical Considerations and Challenges. AILA Review, Vol. 33, 2020, pp. 120–135. issn 1461-0213. doi.org/10.1075/aila.00033.ans LINK FULL TEXT
Text recycling involves the verbatim reuse of text from one’s own existing documents in a newly-created text— such as the duplication of a paragraph or section from a published article in a new article. Although plagiarism is widely eschewed across academia and the publishing industry, the ethics of text recycling are not agreed upon and are currently being vigorously debated. In this article, we first describe and illustrate text recycling in the context of academic writing. We then explain and document several themes that emerged from interviews with publishers of peer-reviewed academic journals. These themes demonstrate the vexed and unsettle nature of text recycling as a discursive phenomenon in academic writing and publishing. In doing so, we focus on the complex relationships between personal (role-based) and social (norm-based) aspects of scientific publication, complicating conventional models of the writing process that have inadequately accounted for authorial decisions about accuracy, efficiency, self-representation, adherence to existing or imagined rules and norms, perceptions of ownership and copyright, and fears of impropriety.
The TRRP made news in the environmental science magazine Environmental Factor, a publication of the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences (NIEHS). Read the piece, “No clear guidelines on self-plagiarism in science, Moskovitz says” here.
Cary Moskovitz & Susanne Hall. Text Recycling in STEM Research: An Exploratory Investigation of Expert and Novice Beliefs and Attitudes. Journal of Technical Writing and Communication, March, 2020. https://doi.org/10.1177/0047281620915434 LINK FULL-TEXT
When writing journal articles, STEM researchers produce a number of other genres such as grant proposals and conference posters, and their articles routinely build directly on their own prior work. As a result, STEM authors often reuse material from their completed documents in producing new documents. While this practice, known as text recycling (or self-plagiarism), is a debated issue in publishing and research ethics, little is known about researchers’ beliefs about what constitutes appropriate practice. This article presents results of an exploratory, survey-based study on beliefs and attitudes toward text recycling among STEM “experts” (faculty researchers) and “novices” (graduate students and postdocs). While expert and novice researchers are fairly consistent in distinguishing between text recycling and plagiarism, there is considerable disagreement about appropriate text recycling practice.
In February, members of the TRRP gave two presentations at the 2020 annual meeting of the Association for Practical and Professional Ethics in Atlanta, GA. Cary Moskovitz presented “The Text Recycling Research Project: The Challenges and Our Approach” as part of the Responsible Conduct Of Research-Research Integrity Consortium pre-conference workshop. Chris Anson, Ian Anson and Michael Pemberton joined Cary to present a panel session, “Findings from the Text Recycling Research Project.”
Cary Moskovitz and Susanne Hall presented “Text Recycling in Scientific Research Writing” at the American Medical Writers Association Medical Writing & Communication Conference in San Diego, CA on Nov 7, 2019.
Michael A. Pemberton, Susanne Hall, Cary Moskovitz & Chris Anson. Text Recycling: Views of North American Journal Editors from an Interview-Based Study. Learned Publishing, 2019. DOI: 10.1002/leap.1259
Results from an interview-based study of 21 journal editors from a broad range of academic disciplines. Our findings show that editors’ beliefs and practices are quite individualized, rather than being tied to disciplinary or other structural parameters.
Three members of the TRRP will share our first findings on STEM researchers actual recycling practices in a talk titled “Text Recycling in STEM Disciplines: Results from a Text Analytic Study” at the 8th International Conference on Writing Analytics, 5-6 September 2019, Winterthur, Switzerland. Here is the abstract:
Text recycling (TR), sometimes called “self-plagiarism”, is the reuse of text verbatim from one’s own existing documents in a newly- created text. In a (US) federally-funded grant, we have been studying TR patterns using several methodologies. In one strand of this research, we have created a tool in R to analyze large corpora of published articles to determine the extent of TR occurrence. In this presentation, we briefly describe the goals of the project and the analytic system we have developed. We then share the results of an analysis of 400 published papers associated with eight disciplines. Results show the frequency of TR across disciplines in articles generated from the same grants. These results demonstrate that substantial variation exists in text recycling practices across disciplines and individual authors. We conclude by speculating about the causes of these patterns, especially as they have evolved over time.
Three members of the TRRP will be featured speakers at the Committee on Publication Ethics European Seminar in Leiden, Netherlands, Sept 23, 2019. Here is the abstract:
Text recycling research project
Text recycling is an increasingly important and controversial issue in scholarly communication, yet little actual research has been conducted and it is rarely addressed in the ethical training of researchers. The Text Recycling Research Project is the first large scale investigation of the topic. The aim of the NSF-supported project is to better understand text recycling, to help build consensus among stakeholders, and to promote ethical and appropriate practice.
- What do gatekeepers across academic fields believe about appropriate text recycling practice? Michael Pemberton, Georgia Southern University. Professor of Writing and Linguistics, Director of the University Writing Center, and Editor of Across the Disciplines
- What do STEM researchers actually do in practice? Cary Moskovitz (Lead PI), Duke University. Associate Professor of the Practice and Director of Writing in the Disciplines, Thompson Writing Program
- When is text recycling legal and when does it violate copyright or contract law? David R Hansen, Associate University Librarian for Research, Collections and Scholarly Communications, Lead Copyright and Information Policy Officer, Duke University Libraries