Can You Plagiarize Yourself?

Yes you can.

Question: When or why would you plagiarize yourself?

Often it has to do with writing the same thing to numerous people and you’re just cutting and pasting to save time.

Usually not a problem.

Key word: usually.

As with most matters of sloppy copy and grammar matters that get my attention, it’s a issue of moving too fast and not reading what we write before we hit send.

Take the case of an email I received recently. A lovely note from someone keeping me informed of her current work situation and thanking me for being wonderful mentor. Lovely sentiment and an appreciated effort. We teachers don’t often get thanked so it’s nice to hear. At least I’d like to think it was sincere. However, it also included a line that it was great to see me at an event that I didn’t attend. My sense is that she was writing several notes to several teachers, me included, obviously. Does the fact that she forget to edit out the one line that gave it away make the effort any less sincere? For me, no. I don’t wish to make it so. Less clean and professional certainly…maybe she needed to take me for more than one semester, or maybe I didn’t teach the lesson strongly enough.

But learn the lesson now! Don’t dilute your intent. Read what you write before you hit send and make sure you are saying what you mean and meaning what you say. Am I a wonderful mentor or was the whole message meant for someone else? Don’t have your message muddled and your recipient wondering what your really mean.

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