I wrote a short story as an English major work whilst at high school, one that was part of my final testing for graduating so it was submitted to the Government of Education.

If I wanted to rework this and publish it as a short novel, would I have issues with self-plagarism? Or not because it technically hasn't been previously published?

  • 1
    Plagiarism is representing someone else's work as your own. Self-plagiarism would mean representing your own work as your own, which you are certainly allowed to do. However, if you grant copyright to a piece of your work to someone else, you cannot then publish it yourself because you no longer hold the copyright. The mere fact that it has been published before tells you nothing about who own the copyright.
    – user16226
    Dec 28 '16 at 14:23

I'm not sure what rules might apply where you are (Government of Education makes me think not the US so keep in mind I'm talking from the perspective of the US). As far as I know, you are okay. You are the writer. You don't sign over any rights to the work when you submit something as a school assignment. Only if you wrote it as a work-for-hire or assigned rights over to someone else would I see any problem with you publishing it. Except for those cases, you wrote it, it's yours.

Also, in those other cases, it wouldn't be plagiarism (because you are still the author) but it could be copyright infringement.


The idea of self-plagiarism is ridiculous. Cause even Daniel Keez wrote the hole book using his published article. But there is even THE ETHICS OF SELF-PLAGIARISM

Hope it will help.

  • 2
    Hi, and welcome to Writers. Can you please summarize the contents of what you've linked to? We discourage link-only answers because if the link disappears in the future, the answer will not be helpful. Dec 28 '16 at 14:47

The issue of plagiarism is mainly concerned with misrepresenting the nature or source of the written work that you are publishing.

The most well-known, "archetypical" type of plagiarism is using someone else's ideas in your writing and not citing the source, which may mislead readers into giving you the credit for these ideas.

Another type of plagiarism is using the same wording as your source, but not clearly indicating this via quotation marks or other quotation devices, which may mislead readers into giving you the credit for coming up with this wording.

The idea of "self-plagiarism" is more complicated, but it mainly refers to an academic concept. In many cases, when you submit a writing assignment for an academic course, or to an academic journal, there is an implication that you are submitting new work. If you re-use some of your own old work without making it clear that that's what you're doing, it might look like you're trying to mislead your instructor or publisher into thinking they're getting new work when they really aren't, and you may get in trouble for this.

The other thing that can be connected to the issue of "self-plagiarism" is copyright infringement, as Terri Simon noted. I can't say for sure without knowing the details, but I would be very surprised if you didn't retain all copyright to work that you did as a student. Generally copyright is only an issue if you signed over the rights to your older work to some publisher.

Publishing a novel or other work of fiction is not like publishing a paper in a journal, or submitting a writing assignment for a course. When you publish a work of fiction, there is no implication that you are presenting new ideas or ideas that you came up with yourself (many authors re-use the ideas of previous authors without giving any explicit attribution, or re-use ideas from their earlier work), so you shouldn't worry about this type of plagiarism. The wording is your own, so you're not misrepresenting someone else's wording as your own. I would think that you own copyright to the wording, so that shouldn't be an issue, as I said earlier. The only way I can see this being an issue is if the publisher for some reason finds it important for what they publish to have completely new wording, but I can't imagine why they would care. To make sure this isn't an issue, you should simply ask your publisher if what you're doing is OK. If you're self-publishing, that obviously wouldn't be an issue.


"Self-plagiarism" means doing the work once and getting credit twice: using the same paper in two classes and getting credit twice, or academics padding their publication list. Bear in mind that it is very common to publish a PhD dissertation as articles (science) or a book (humanities); and this seems closer to your case than the situations I mentioned above.

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.