Academic Dishonesty - Double Submission

I was in grad school for a while and am again in a different field. A classmate posted on a facebook page how she’d submitted the same article review in three different classes. From my previous experience in grad school I knew it wasn’t kosher so I looked up my current grad school’s code of conduct and as I suspected, it’s disallowed here too. Both now and then though, it was deemed okay if all professors involved agreed to it. (I privately told this student, who I’m certain did it out of ignorance and laziness rather than dishonesty, that it could get her in trouble and she was worried enough to hand in alternate reviews to her professors, and tell them what she’d inadvertently done.)

But I never quite understood it, either as a student or when I was a teaching assistant. Why, if two assignments sufficiently similar, can’t I turn in one paper that covers both? As a TA, I don’t think it would’ve bothered me if a student handed something in they’d handed in in another class (and I don’t know how I’d’ve known anyway).

In learning terms of course, it’s absolutely logical. If you meet the intended learning outcomes in a number of ways, that suggests a deficiency in the curriculum (or the assessment).

However, bottom line is that because each successful submission of work is assigned credit, you can’t gain multiple lots of credit for the same piece of work. It’s like a builder being paid by each member of a household for building the same roof.

IME, you can often calibrate classes to suit your own purposes and use them as a vehicle for some of your own interests. For instance, I took a class about studying Public Opinion, and the grade was largely based on a final research paper dealing with public opinion about anything anywhere, so obviously I chose to write on something that I both already knew about and that would be useful for my thesis later on. While it was a unique project (that may one day be published, but that aside) it may have had some overlap with other things I’d done before and I’m sure I acknowledged that in the paper (fn: part of this was presented earlier in class so-and-so…).

To map this to the real world, I often pitch similar ideas to multiple magazines. Let’s say that Mexican Food Monthly and Hard Liquor Magazine both bite on my proposal for an article entitled “Making Fish Tacos Better with Tequila.”

If I write one article and sell it to both magazines, I’m violating both professional ethics and the standard freelance writer’s contract (magazines typically buy first publication rights).

On the other hand, if I do the research once, and write two articles (one focusing on the fish and one focusing on the tequila), that’s fine. In fact, it’s not just fine, it’s standard operating procedure. I’ve written articles on the same exact subject for three or four magazines, with each article tailored to that magazine’s target audience, writing style, and editorial preferences.

Multiple submissions for a writer is only way to survive. I submit the same damn thing to many publications. But of course I only have it published in one. Actually, I’ve only once had two takers, and I didn’t feel bad about telling them it had already been published because it’d been published seven months ago – and I’d mailed them out on the same day. Having multiple people want your writing is a good problem to have.

I handed in a nearly identical paper for two different classes as an undergrad. One was a cinema class, and the other was a lit course. I wrote a comparison paper of Lord of the Flies book and movie. Got an A in one class and a B in the other. Both instructors were impressed that I’d taken the extra step of analyzing another medium. 95% of papers that I had to write had assignment sheets that were far too specific to double dip though.

I’m not sure what should be a bigger concern; the multiple-submissions, or the fact that there could be enough assignments being given out that the same paper adequately addresses for this to even be much of an issue.

(bolding mine)

Not true for academia (at least for the fields I’m familiar with). When I submit an article, I have to certify that it has not been published anywhere else and that it is not currently in consideration for publication anywhere else. If it’s rejected by the first journal I’m free to submit to another, but I can’t have the same article being considered by two different journals simultaneously.

I think this is pretty standard practice for peer-reviewed journals - the review process is an investment that the journal won’t make unless they’re offered exclusive rights to the article (assuming it’s accepted). I think academic books are handled differently, but I don’t know enough about that process to comment on it.

Even in ‘Industry’ (well, mine at least) it is considered bad form to submit multiple articles. Bad form meaning you are black listed quickly. So, one journal per article until/unless they reject it. Thing is, they sit on these things for years and are stubborn on a ‘just reject it’ conversation. I had one article sit out there for 3 years before they said they would publish it…a year later.

Mad Magazine thinks it’s okay.

Grad school is a very different animal from undergrad … Your course of study is to a certain extent customized towards your particular intended thesis/dissertation subject, and you’ll get a lot less direction from the professors on the subjects to write about. It can be a very rough path for people who aren’t all that self-motivated. (Says the grad school dropout.)

Here’s an interesting thing I was wondering related to this. If you submitted a paper at School 1 and are now at School 2, and for some reason School 2 doesn’t recognize the legitimacy of School 1 (e.g. they do not recognize its accreditation, do not accept transfer credits from there, or do not recognize degrees from there as legitimate prerequisites for further study, e.g. School 2 won’t let you into a grad program with a BS from School 1 because School 2 doesn’t recognize bachelor’s degrees from School 1), does that mean that you can multiple-submit your School 1 papers for a class or program at School 2 because the previous submissions count for nothing? My practical assumption would be no, the fact that the school isn’t officially recognized would not shield you. Has this ever happened or do you know of a school that has a policy that explicitly specifies whether or not this is an element of the academic dishonesty offense of multi-submission? I suppose the same question can be asked of academic journals - does the fact that a person has already submitted a paper to Aunt Sally’s Down-Home Appalachian Gossip Quarterly (not recognized anywhere as an actual legitimate academic journal) and had it published actually bar them from submitting it to the New England Journal of Medicine assuming that copyright matters can be arranged?

I did this in grad school, more or less; the first round was written for my initial multidisciplinary grad seminar, which was intended to have a wide enough focus that anyone in the M.A. in Russian & East European Studies program could write a seminar paper that would eventually become the kernel of his/her M.A. thesis. (IIRC the seminar title that year was “Politics, Identity, & Society” or somesuch.)

A year later I approached the professor for a Russian politics class about being on my thesis committee, and gave him that very rough draft to read. He asked whether I had intended to use that paper as my submission for his class that semester. I told him no, I’d already submitted it for another class, and wasn’t that unkosher? He told me he didn’t have a problem with it, and if I submitted it for his class, he’d give me an A. (The grade for his class was based 20% on class participation, and the remaining 80% the student’s choice of a seminar paper, a final exam, or split evenly between the two.) As I had 3 other huge papers to write that semester, I took him up on it.

He eventually declared the final cancelled the week before, and told everyone they had A’s. Of course, that was his last semester teaching before retirement, which might have had something to do with it.

I don’t think we’re speaking of the same thing. I write nonfiction, so I don’t submit completed papers for publication. I submit query letters (for articles) or proposals (for books). I don’t actually write the article until someone has made a commitment to buy it. At that point, I tailor it specifically to their requirements.

If I sent out two very similar queries and got bites from both, I’d do the research once, but write the article twice with a different focus/slant in each.

I would never send the same completed article to two publications.

In some programs, it’s not only expected that you’ll turn in the same work multiple times, it’s encouraged. I got a lot of mileage out of my professional project in graduate school because it was useful to the department; consequently, it satisfied the requirement for the project, and I got credit for it in every class I was taking that semester. I think my advisor would have been upset if I hadn’t done that. Other students made promotional videos for one class and re-submitted them for project credit.

Even in my current program, we are expected to submit the same lesson plans in multiple classes unless the instructor says otherwise. The goal is to teach us that there is no virtue in working harder than we have to, and that it’s OK to recycle lesson plans from year to year. (As long as they’re current. :))

Thank you!

Someone mentioned that article to me years and years ago, but I’d never read it until now. It’s hilarious!

It’s possible, I suppose, if you get permission from the profs. But I think it’s bad form overall. Are two or more assignments in grad school that similar? Now I get a lot of students wanting to improve papers or build on previous work; that’s fine. I’ve had students submit improved versions of papers from other assignments.

Interesting. I never even considered that it’s unethical or bad form to submit the same paper in two different classes in grad school. I actually did that once in the same semester, though I presented it more as discussion in one class and presentation in another. I did research on Internet voting (back in the very early 2000s) and presented it as a discussion geared towards the architecture in a Software Engineering discussion class and presented it to my Security and Privacy class as a presentation geared towards the security and privacy issues. So I guess it was more oral than written and had different emphasis in each class, and I can’t recall if I actually submitted a finished paper to both professors. I also can’t recall if I let the professors know I was doing the same topic for each of their classes. More than likely, if I had presented an actual paper instead of doing it more orally, I probably would have submitted different writeups focusing on the issues particular to each class.