Scientific creativity – whether autoplagiarism is a plagiarism**

Jerzy Szczotka


The subject of the present paper concerns the issue of a very significant, current and inspiring deep social interest value, especially in the field of scientific creativity. The notion of autoplagiarism appeared there in the 90’s of the last century and at once it became amazingly popular, achieved enormous “power of effectiveness”, evoking at the same time strong emotions – anxiety, disquiet or even fear. The term of autoplagiarism is a compound verb and this is the second of its component – expression “plagiarism” – that has contributed to this fast career and extraordinary effectiveness, becoming a carrier of a strong pejorative, stigmatizing and disqualifying evaluation. 2. The notion of plagiarism has its origin in the language of ancient Rome – Latin, where gradually as a “plagiatus” it was explicitly associated with a theft. The term “plagiarism” is used by Polish copyright juristic doctrine and judicial decisions in reference to the offence consisting in appropriation of the authorship of the whole or a part of a third person’s work – presenting himself as the author of such a work. On the one hand, the act of plagiarism as an offence brings to civil liability based on the ground of art. 78 Polish Copyright Act of 1994, on the other hand, as a crime brings to criminal liability based on the ground of art. 115 P.C.A. The crime of plagiarism derives from the offence of appropriation of a third person’s property, generally called a theft. This is the reason why plagiarism is commonly identified as a theft and as such is evaluated from the ethical and moral point of view. However, it is necessary to notice and stress a question of a fundamental importance and decisive for final conclusion that plagiarism consists in appropriation of the authorship of a third person’s work – you can neither steal your own property nor your own work. 3. The notion of autoplagiarism is not a normative expression. In the field of academic creativity it has been connected with evaluating of scientific achievements of the representatives of these circles in the context of academic career. That means achieving academic degree of doctor, doctor habilitatus and academic title of professor as well as posts and profits connected with them – prestige, awards, grants, incomes. The task of defining the notion of autoplagiarismis is not easy. It may be accepted that the phenomenon of autoplagiarism is understood as a special form of the author’s repeated distribution of his former publications, however, without providing any proper information about it. The aim of the autoplagiarist’s acting is to enlarge a quantity of his publications and thereby mislead as to the volume of his scientific achievements. 4. The analysis of proper provisions justifies the statement that from the point of view of the normative requirements to grant an academic degree or title, a matter of indifference – featureful however, for plagiarism – is a candidates’ intention to mislead as to the quantity or quality of his scientific achievements. 5. Answering the question asked in the title of the present article – whether autoplagiarism is a plagiarism in the field of scientific creativity – it should be stated that obviously autoplagiarism is not a plagiarism. It is also necessary to notice that the word “autoplagiarism” is an oxymoron from the linguistic point of view and thereby there are a lot of problems to define this notion. The introduction of an expression of autoplagiarism to the sphere of legal language should be in my opinion recognized as useless and even harmful. An acting named by this term may find its place only in the sphere of ethics considerations as an infringement of good academic customs. Therefore, it seems reasonable that the resignation of using the notion of autoplagiarism as hitherto in the mentioned context might be the best solution. However, if it appeared impossible there should be made an effort to redefine this notion, but in my opinion this undertaking has a little chance to be successful.

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Data publikacji: 2015-05-05 12:45:08
Data złożenia artykułu: 2015-04-14 19:17:02


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