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Academic Skills

Self Plagiarism

Reusing One’s Own Words

Each assignment turned in at NU must be original, which means not reusing prior text that you have written. However, there are a few exceptions where using prior work is acceptable. Students must cite the original work even if you are doing so as part of one of these exceptions: 

  1. Previously attempted courses: When you retake a course, you can submit work from the prior attempt to the new course. If you are happy with the original grade you received, then you can reuse it. However, NU policy states that “Students must notify their faculty that they previously attempted the course and are re-using prior work,” so tell your instructor that you are reusing work from the prior course. The University also encourages students to revise any work submitted to prior courses because revising and improving work is an important part of the scholarly process, and something you will be doing if you go on to write a dissertation, so it’s good practice.
  2. Research methods courses: If the student in a research methods course is continuing research from a prior research methods course, the student can submit that prior research as part of their work in the current course. As always, the student must notify their faculty member that they are using prior work and cite it.
  3. Dissertation and Comprehensive Examination courses: For comp courses, those marked CMP and used to pass into the dissertation stage, and for the dissertation, students may reuse prior material. Again, students must cite the prior material in the new submissions.
  4. When instructed to do so by their faculty member: Faculty can allow students to submit prior work at the instructor’s discretion. If you wish to submit prior work to a course, you can always ask the instructor for permission to do so. Of course, the instructor is not obligated to allow the resubmission, and there must be a good reason for doing so if it is outside of the above cases.