Reusing one’s previously published work without alerting the reader of its prior publication constitutes self-plagiarism and it is a practice that is strictly forbidden by most scientific and scholarly journals. There are circumstances that may justify the publication of an entire article or of portions of an article that had been previously published in another journal. Guidance on these matters is readily available and specifies the conditions under which secondary publication can take place. However, the mission of most scholarly journals is to publish original research. With some exceptions (e.g., translation into another language), few journals seem willing to grant the right to publish their material elsewhere or exercise the option to publish an article that had been previously published in another periodical. One area of contention for which little guidance is available is the practice of reusing verbatim portions of text from authors’ previously published articles. I argue that such a practice should be avoided because it is not consistent with the high standards expected of scholars and scientists.
The rules regarding the various forms of self-plagiarism, as well as those that apply to other areas of responsible research conduct could always benefit from further clarification. However, it may not be possible to formulate guidance that covers every possible scenario. An ethically mindful attitude toward full disclosure and transparency in scientific research and publication may be more useful than the formulation of additional guidance.