Medical Writing Medical Writing in Paediatrics Forgive me for repeating myself: Self-plagiarism in the medical literature

Volume 21, Issue 2 - Medical Writing in Paediatrics

Forgive me for repeating myself: Self-plagiarism in the medical literature


While plagiarism of others’ work is universally condemned, authors’ reuse of their own words and data (so-called ‘self-plagiarism’) is a far more contentious issue. The recycling of one's own text, in particular, polarizes opinion: some consider it unacceptable, whereas others don't see anything wrong with it at all. This being so, it is unsurprising that there are no widely adopted guidelines outlining which (if any) and how much text may be recycled. My aim in writing this article is to briefly introduce the different types of self-plagiarism; to present the views of journal editors and other interested parties and describe ways in which the former are combating abuses; and to highlight some of the steps authors can take to avoid trouble.

Download the full article


  1. Self-plagiarism: unintentional, harmless, or fraud? Lancet 2009;374(9691):664.
  2. Chalmers I. Intentional self-plagiarism. Lancet 2009;374(9699):1422.
  3. Price JH, Dake JA, Islam R. Selected ethical issues in research and publication: perceptions of health education faculty. Health Educ Behav 2001;28(1):51–64.
  4. Bonnell DA, Hafner JH, Hersam MC, et al. Recycling is not always good: the dangers of self-plagiarism. ACS Nano 2012;6(1):1–4.
  5. White SM. Self-plagiarism. Anaesthesia 2011;66(3):220–1.
  6. International Committee of Medical Journal Editors. Uniform requirements for manuscripts submitted to biomedical journals: writing and editing for biomedical publication. Available from:
  7. Roig M. Avoiding plagiarism, self-plagiarism, and other questionable writing practices: a guide to ethical writing. Available from:
  8. 2010 Anesthesia & Analgesia Guide for Authors. Editorial Board, Anesthesia & Analgesia. Available from:
  9. Ethical Guidelines. ACS Publications Available from:
  10. eTBLAST. Virginia Bioinformatics Institute. Available from:
  11. Butler D. Journals step up plagiarism policing. Nature 2010;466(7303):167.
  12. Yentis SM. Another kind of ethics: from corrections to retractions. Anaesthesia 2010;65(12):1163–6
  13. Déjà vu. Available from:
  14. Garner HR. Combating unethical publications with plagiarism detection services. Urol Oncol 2011;29(1):95–9.
  15. Marshall E. Medline searches turn up cases of suspected plagiarism. Science 1998;279(5350):473–4.
  16. Kravitz RL, Feldman MD. From the editors’ desk: self-plagiarism and other editorial crimes and misdemeanors. J Gen Intern Med 2011;26(1):1.
  17. Self-plagiarism of textbook chapters. World Association of Medical Editors. Available from:
  18. Iverson C. AMA manual of style: A guide for authors and editors. 9th ed. Baltimore: Williams & Wilkins; 1998.
  19. Samuelson P. Self-plagiarism or fair use? Commun ACM 1994;37(8):21–5.



Medical writing in paediatrics: Children and the future
Message from the President
Challenges of paediatric drug development and impact of paediatric legislation
Writing applications for Paediatric Investigation Plans and waivers
Preparing the Paediatric Investigation Plan application
ADHD: A true neurodevelopmental disorder?
Medicines information for patients: Insights into research and practice for medical writers
The MHRA perspective on the new pharmacovigilance legislation
Are stem cells the future of healthcare?
O, safety, quo vadis?
Crowdpower in the era of ‘health 2.0’
Networking effectively: Essential for being successful in business
The moving image and your business
Forgive me for repeating myself: Self-plagiarism in the medical literature
In the Bookstores
Journal Watch
The Webscout
Manuscript Writing
Regulatory Writing
English Grammar and Style
Out On Our Own

Member Login


The Write Stuff Archive Contact Instructions for Authors Feature Article Template (Word) Journal Policies

Editoral Board



Managing Editor

show all +

Associate Editors:

Section Editors:

Ad-hoc Editors:

  • Amy Whereat (SpeaktheSpeech Consulting, Asnieres sur Seine, France)

Editor Emeritus: