Reusing Your Own Paper

Photo by Claudio Calligaris

A student is taking a course this semester that is related to a previous course he took. His final paper for the previous course was on a topic that is central to the present one. Due to the overlap, he decides to hand in the paper as one of his assignments for the current course. Is this permitted?



Why is this an issue?

One of the objectives of your studies is to build on your education by applying concepts and knowledge acquired in previous courses to current ones. But the work produced for each course must be original, and the resubmission of an old paper does not build on previous knowledge; it recycles it.

An interview with the disciplinary officer will be required. See the Code of Student Conduct and Disciplinary Procedures in the Handbook on Student Rights and Responsibilities for more details.

How can it be avoided?

It is sometimes possible, and even desirable to use previous work as a launching base for new assignments, and this can be part of the academic process. Students who want to do this should contact the course instructor or TA to find out if and how a previous piece of work can be expanded or otherwise used to fulfill the requirements of a current course. If the student fails to do this and submits a previously graded paper, the TA must inform the course instructor, who will then contact the appropriate disciplinary officer.

Quick fact

I am registered in course section B, but actually attend section A, because I prefer the schedule. The instructor insists that I write the quiz with my registered section, but I have no study partners in that group. In this situation, it makes sense to find out about the quiz from a student in another section who wrote it earlier in the day, right?

To obtain prior knowledge about a test, without an instructor's permission (e.g. in a tutorial) is an academic offence; you would gain an unfair advantage over others in the course section.

Related Information

"Another factor that related to lack of awareness was 'ownership of work.' This referred to turning in the same paper in two different classes, an action designated as cheating in most institutional policy statements, but not consciously viewed as dishonest by students. For the students who were aware that this was inappropriate behaviour, they differentiated this behaviour from other cheating behaviour because the actual work was their own."
- Love, P. G., & Simmons, J. M.  (1997, November). The meaning and mediated nature of cheating and plagiarism among graduate students in a college of education. Paper presented at the Annual Meeting of the Association for the Study of Higher Education, Albuquerque, NM. Available from the ERIC database. (ERIC Document No. ED415826).

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