My university has a very strict policy on plagiarism (I presume as do all universities).

As an assignment I must write a report of my internship, but since it is my second internship I have already written one last year. Would it count as plagiarism if I copy and pasted some text, when the content would be almost identical even if I were to rewrite it? Obviously I have to rewrite most sections of the report, but in other sections I genuinely have nothing new to say since last year.

  • 1
    At my university you require the permission of the professors teaching the old and new course to resubmit any work so plagiarism may not be the only factor. – ryanpattison Apr 30 '15 at 22:08
  • 2
    What did your instructor say about this when you asked them? – Mad Jack Apr 30 '15 at 23:34
  • 1
    It would be a sad situation if you did not own your prior coursework... But, nevertheless, it is often the case that the institution imagines that they own it. So if you quote yourself you are plagiarizing... This is ridiculous, but, well, it is a corollary of the combination of too-many students "gaming" the system ... and the profit-motivated copyright machinations of "publishers" (as thought there were no internet...) – paul garrett Apr 30 '15 at 23:34
  • 5
    I don't think see this as a matter of owning your prior coursework. Rather, the requirement is to write something new, and copying your previous work doesn't satisfy that requirement. – Anonymous Mathematician May 1 '15 at 0:41

As long as you're sure it's appropriate that you are saying the same thing as in the previous assignment (if you're supposed to be achieving something on this internship, shouldn't you be achieving something new?), cite yourself.

It might feel pompous or self-centred at first, but it is the norm in academic texts to cite your own material just as you would anyone else's. Since I imagine your previous report isn't published anywhere, if you can put the previous one online it could be helpful to include the URL so the reader can check the context of the material you're quoting or paraphrasing.

Specific citation styles vary, but they would generally look something like:

Tully, B. 'Report on my first internship'. Unpublished, available at http://www.internet.com [accessed 1 May 2015].

  • 2
    Yes, quoting your previous report extensively with a citation might not go over well, but it's not plagiarism. (And I can't imagine circumstances in which copying without citation would be considered OK but copying with citation wouldn't be, so it can't make you any worse off ethically.) – Anonymous Mathematician May 1 '15 at 0:47
  • The OP could also submit the cited paper as an attachment rather than post online. – ryanpattison May 1 '15 at 14:46

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.