A recent report looked at how scientists respond when caught plagiarizing a research paper
. The article and the responses are a bit amusing -- but what struck me was the claim that the vast majority of "plagiarism" was actually "self-plagiarism." In other words, the researcher was effectively reusing some bit of material he or she had published for something else. I'm sure some academics will be quick to explain why this is a horrible breach of academic protocol, but I'm having a very difficult time understanding how this makes any sense, whatsoever. Reusing concepts, ideas, data or anything else would seem to be an incredibly useful
tool for the purposes of reinforcement, or even to build on those earlier works. Limiting that for some artificial standard just doesn't seem to make much sense. There obviously may be cases where the first research journal to publish something gets the copyright on the content (an all-too-frequent occurrence, especially for publicly-funded research), but even then it's not "plagiarism" so much as copyright infringement, potentially -- and it seems ridiculous to not allow such reuse to go forward.