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Student Perceptions of Self-Plagiarism: A Multi-University Exploratory Study


The purpose of this study was to assess student perceptions of self-plagiarism. Students at three university campuses offering graduate and undergraduate classes in a residential and online format were queried; 284 students responded. Overwhelmingly, students perceived they owned their own previous published works and over half reported they believed self-plagiarism should not be considered an academic honesty offense. Most faculty members did not provide information about self-plagiarism to their students. Only about one-fourth of the students reported recycling parts of an assignment in the past. Students who took online courses were more likely to have been educated about self-plagiarism than those who took residential courses. Understanding students’ perceptions about academic honesty offenses such as plagiarism can help institutions develop effective policies and interventions.

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Correspondence to Colleen Halupa.



Survey Instrument

Instructions: Please read the questions below carefully and indicate your level of agreement by checking one response for each question.


Strongly Disagree




Strongly Agree

1. Self-plagiarism is …


a. … a clearly defined concept.


b. … clearly understood by our instructors.


c. … clearly understood by us students.


2. Instructors should …


a. … teach us about appropriate practices regarding self-plagiarism.


b. … assume we have been educated about acceptable practices. [R]


c. … report all self-plagiarism cases.


d. … assume we do not engage in self-plagiarism. [R]


3. As a student …


a. … I have recycled some of my previous assignments without instructor permission or citing myself. [R]


b. … all work I have done for every assignment has been original so far.


c. …I have reused some previous work with instructor permission.


d. …I have reused some previous work in a new assignment and included a citation of my previous assignment.


4. When I …


a. … build on previous assignments, it can increase my depth of learning.


b. … incorporate previous assignments in new assignments, I use my time wisely.


c. … reuse part of previously written papers for new assignments, I can expect potential problems with my instructor.


5. When I …


a. … do NOT get instructor permission when I recycle my work, I am self-plagiarizing.


b. … reuse part of a previous paper for a new assignment (if appropriate to the new assignment) WITHOUT citing the previous paper, I am self-plagiarizing.


c. … reuse assignments that were completed for a group project in a course, I am self-plagiarizing.


d. … reuse a completed paper for a new assignment, I am self-plagiarizing.


6. I do NOT need to cite myself if I use an excerpt I wrote for a previous paper to prevent self-plagiarism because it is not copyrighted. [R]


7. Most of my instructors have provided information of what self-plagiarism is and how to avoid it.


8. Most of my instructors have had an instructor policy regarding self-plagiarism.


9. I had NOT heard of self-plagiarism prior to completing this survey. [R]


10. As far as I know, my school does NOT have a standard universal policy about self-plagiarism. [R]


11. I do NOT understand self-plagiarism. [R]


Instructions: Please complete the following questions by selecting one answer.

Instructions: Please complete the following questions by writing in the answer.

15. How do you define self-plagiarism in regards to student assignments?

16. Do you regard using your own previous unpublished work an academic honesty offense? Why or why not?

17. Do you feel you own the assignments you have written and can reuse them freely? Why or why not?

Instructions: Please complete the following questions by selecting one answer.

Instructions: Please complete the following questions by writing in the answer.

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Halupa, C., Bolliger, D.U. Student Perceptions of Self-Plagiarism: A Multi-University Exploratory Study. J Acad Ethics 13, 91–105 (2015).

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