Saturday, September 30, 2006

This and that

A friend of mine told me about his bankruptcy class. The professor is having surgery next month, so they have classes for nine hours every week. And about 80 pages to read for each class. Wow. That’s rough. But then he told me that the final exam is in mid-October. Then it’s all over. I’m not sure whether I’d like it that way or the traditional way. I guess it’s a question of whether you can suffer for half the semester and keep the big picture in mind, which is that the second half of the semester, when all your other classes pick up pace, will be much easier for those people.
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Does anyone know what the rule is on plagiarizing your own paper? Let’s say I wrote about a topic a couple years ago and now I’m writing another paper on the same topic. This semester’s paper isn’t the same exact topic but some of the background that I put in the last paper would go perfectly in this paper. Can I just cut and paste my old paper into this one? I am thinking that the proper way to do this is to cite your old paper just like law professors cite themselves all the time when they write law review articles. But that seems odd since it’s not like that first paper was published. I guess I’d better find out before I do anything illegal.
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Sorry about that guest blogger thing. Like you, I was hoping for a little more than wet books and a sticker on the car. He told me afterwards that he was trying to build up to a climax, but I think unfortunately he missed one of the fundamental parts of good writing – capture the reader’s attention at the beginning and leave them wanting more, not less.
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I accomplished one of my goals yesterday. I cashed in my Westlaw points for an iPod and one of those thingies that lets you listen to your iPod in your car. I'm quite proud of myself for playing all their little trivia contests and games. I've wanted an iPod for a while now but never wanted it enough to spend money. The iPod and the car thingie cost 22,020 points. So now I have 20 Westlaw points remaining.
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I'm going to the football game today. This is the first time I'm going to a football game since an undergraduate peed on my leg at a game when I was a 1L. I think I'll wear some old clothes and dirty shoes just in case...

6 Comments:

At 1:30 PM, Anonymous Michael Froomkin said...

Does anyone know what the rule is on plagiarizing your own paper? Let’s say I wrote about a topic a couple years ago and now I’m writing another paper on the same topic. This semester’s paper isn’t the same exact topic but some of the background that I put in the last paper would go perfectly in this paper. Can I just cut and paste my old paper into this one? I am thinking that the proper way to do this is to cite your old paper just like law professors cite themselves all the time when they write law review articles. But that seems odd since it’s not like that first paper was published. I guess I’d better find out before I do anything illegal.

You can CITE the old paper (but the prof may want to see it). You can't (substantially) quote the old paper, much less re-use it, without advance permission from the instructor. Which you usually won't get. The idea is you ought to learn new stuff.

Doing it without permission is a serious honor code problem if you get caught.

 
At 2:03 PM, Blogger QueSaraSara said...

Urine-free for you and me! Here's hoping you come home with only your own body fluids.

 
At 4:43 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

The undergrad had the right idea

 
At 3:56 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

When I was on Honor Council, we had way bigger fish to fry than self-plaigarism -- like theft, embezzlement and real cheating.

If a professor brought up a charge of copying one's own paper, I doubt it would even get through the probable cause stage, and into the discovery phase. In my day, we'd have disposed of it in forty minutes, with an eyeroll and minimal sweating, putting an end to further "judicial labor."

The Code of Conduct is written very broadly; almost anything, spun in the correct light, could be construed as an Honor Code violation. It's like the rules of Professional Conduct. Or the Torah. Everything's a sin.

Still, there were plenty of infractions that we agonized over, and put forward for further investigation, and occasionally, final hearings.

Be careful, but realize that your Honor Council (if they're still following the Realist approach that was in practice for your first year) doesn't want to waste its resources or ruin any lives chasing frivolous issues brought by asshole professors with personal vendettas (believe it or not, they exist.)

And furthermore, despite their belief otherwise, your professors aren't omniscient Gods. They have better things to do than comb through other professors' LRW papers or essay collections.

Don't be stupid about it, and you won't have a problem. That said, as in the practice of law, there's no reason to unnecessarily reinvent the wheel, as long as you're doing it correctly.

 
At 1:53 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Just cite the sources you cited in the prior paper. Tweak what you use from it, meaning inject it with a couple more current cases/articles/surveys. It is still your written product. A professors endorsement would be a "best practice" judgment call on your part. I usually err on the side of caution, cover your ass so to speak.

 
At 2:55 PM, Blogger Klio said...

Personally, the thought of an undergrad peeing on you disturbs me more than the consequences you might face if you plagiarize yourself.

(SHE'S B-A-C-K!)

 

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