The Retrospective (Im)moralization of Self-Plagiarism: Power Interests in the Social Construction of New Norms for Publishing

Jamie Callahan

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

13 Citations (Scopus)
167 Downloads (Pure)


The “scourge of self-plagiarism” (Green, 2005) has begun to find a place in the discourse of organisation and management scholarship. Whether a real issue of concern or a moral panic, self-plagiarism has captured the attention of authors, editors, publishers, and plagiarismdetection software companies. The types of behaviors castigated as self-plagiarism and the severity of approach toward those behaviors varies, as power brokers in the publishing process argue they hold an ethical high ground. Yet, little has been done to problematize selfplagiarism as a concept and how, and why, it came to occupy such a central role in the academic discourse. In this article, I explore these issues, and argue that self-plagiarism is a misnomer that has been retrospectively (im)moralized (Bloom and White, 2016) through regimes of power. I review the spectrum of behaviors that now fall under the self-plagiarism umbrella and problematize issues associated with self-plagiarism. I identify and challenge the power interests that are negotiating the spaces in which self-plagiarism has risen to the forefront and present a call to action to more transparently, and ethically, deal with issues that are currently labelled as ‘self-plagiarism’. Further, in presenting this article, I engage in a form of ‘guerrilla plagiarism’ (Randall, 2001) to resist the appropriation of my authorial voice by power elites in the institutional field of publishing.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)305-319
Issue number3
Early online date26 Oct 2017
Publication statusPublished - 1 May 2018


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