Monday, October 6, 2008

plagiarism and legal scholarship

As a faculty editor of The Journal of Appellate Practice and Process, I am sometimes asked whether it's acceptable to cite--or even reuse--one's own scholarship in a new piece of writing. I've okayed citation, but have never been comfortable advising an author whether to reuse chunks of his or her earlier writings.

That's why a recent article by Carol M. Bast & Linda B. Samuels caught my eye. Titled Plagiarism and Legal Scholarship in the Age of Information Sharing: The Need for Intellectual Honesty, the article is published at 57 Cath. U. L. Rev. 777 (2008). As stated in the introduction, the authors

explore the application of plagiarism standards in the context of the work of professors, judges, and practicing attorneys and their respective legal writings. The Article also will consider some special circumstances that arise, such as reuse of one's own previously published writing, and student and legal clerk authorship. The authors provide a definition of plagiarism as a starting point and encourage the various types of legal writers to clearly define acceptable and unacceptable practices. In addition, because of the prevalence of plagiarism, the authors recommend that universities, law reviews, journals, and publishers adopt a policy requiring that manuscripts be electronically scanned for plagiarism prior to submission or prior to review.

Id. at 779. (I thought I had best provide a citation!)

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