Is it cheating to turn in a paper you did last year for another class this year?

my friend wants to know

I hope not, I stretched one very in-depth paper into 4 different course assignments over the course of my college career. I edited it every time, though, it wasn’t identical. I turned it into a PowerPoint presentation for a fifth class.

The standard I apply as a teacher, which is directly opposed to the standards I used as a student, is “If you told the teacher that was what you are doing, would he say ‘That’s fine’?” If you’re afraid to ask, then it’s not fine, and you know it.

I was under the impression that you’re still plagiarizing, you’re just plagiarizing yourself (which is apparently possible).

A few years ago I did a paper on Thomas Paine titled “No Paine, No Gain” about his contributions to the American Revolution. If I had an assignment now I could go to the teacher and tell them I wrote a paper with kinda the same topic, but I wanted to make it longer, revise it, add to it, whatever.

When I taught classes that involved turning in a paper, my standard was that you were to turn in your own work; nothing more and nothing less. If you got your topic approved and had a paper on hand that you had previously written for another class, I accepted it.

Your “friend” should check with his or her professor. In my classes, I highly doubt that a paper written for an English comp class is going to be specific enough in its inclusion of psychological concepts that such a paper would fit with my paper requirements. However, I have no problems with having a student take a paper they’ve written for another class and modify it to meet my requirements. But they have to discuss it with me first.

Lots of people seem to think it’s plagiarizing. I really don’t think so. It violates the spirit of University in that your goal is learn all you can about the subject of the class and taking the easy way out only cheats yourself. But is it wrong? No. And it shouldn’t be either.

Well, you’re cheating yourself, of course.

I once wrote a paper on Martin Luther for a Philosophy class that I was then able to use again in a Religion class. But it did require some re-working; mainly a shift in the focus of the paper. But it only took about 1/4 of the time a new paper would have.

So many threads that PSXer starts makes me go, “that sounds like my son.” It’s starting to get creepy.

Yes, it is cheating. That’s the call I made when each of my sons tried this, the lazy bums. The point is not the final product, it is to do the work for practice. Does your gym teacher let you run one lap and then “reuse” it?

Apparently their teachers disagreed with me though. Ask your teacher and find out.

As a former teacher (as well as a former student) I think it’s fine as long as it was originally your own work. I’ve done it myself. As previously indicated, sometimes you have to rework it a bit to confirm to the requirements of the second course, check if there is any change in standards for footnotes or bibiliography.

All programming courses I took encouraged this. Every other class I took, called it cheating. I don’t see anything wrong with it at a college level. The argument against it at a high school level has some more validity to it since they’re still learning and need the practice but the learning curve is so steep during that time, if they want to turn a 8th grade paper when they’re in the 10th grade, they would probably pay the price with a crappy grade.

If you are not sure if something is kosher or not, ask your professor. If something is holding you back from asking your professor, that’s a good sign that it isn’t kosher. The teacher-student relationship should not be adversarial. You should work with each other to figure out how best to learn.

In general, I think re-using papers is not acceptable, because the point of papers is to practice using the specific ideas, works and theories learned in the course. The process is often as important to the learning objectives as the product.

I’m usually a big ol’ moral stickler, but in this case I would not call it cheating. I don’t believe in the idea of plagiarizing yourself - if you own the intellectual rights to something because you wrote it, I don’t believe you have to pay yourself royalties to use it (but I could be wrong). I would, however, check with the instructor because, as others have said, the point is not to just turn in something you’ve written, but get something out of your education that you or someone close to you is paying for. I mean, your friend.

The rule at University I attend is that no material can be submitted for acessment that has been previously submitted for another paper.

I have always assumed that this was a universal rule.

I was required to complete a unit on plagiarism at the beginning of my Master’s program, and according to the standards of my university, yes, it is plagiarism (self-plagiarism). It is permissible to cite your previous work, but not re-use it and claim it as original.

If it completely fulfills the requirements of your assignment then it’s their fault for giving you redundant work.

I re-worked a conference paper into a class paper with the full consent of the professor when I was in graduate school. Then again, by the time I was done re-working, I had probably put in as much effort post-conference as anyone else in class had from the get-go.

I’d be surprised if any professor would let you turn in a minimally revised paper from another class if they knew about it beforehand, but I also doubt that many would severely downgrade you if they found out about your re-use afterward.

To look at it differently, however, it probably isn’t unusual for a high-level student to go over a lot of the same ground in different assignments for different classes when pursuing a specialized interest. This isn’t the same thing as just copying the file, changing the title, and turning it in for another class, but it’s also not the same thing as doing each assignment from scratch.

The paper I used multiple times was on a theory of dinosaur extinction due to climate change resulting from certain environmental elements. The original paper Primarily on dinosaur extinction) was assigned for a Biology class I was taking at the same time as a Freshman Comp class; I turned it in for both.
I revised that paper the following year for a course on persuasive writing and edited it into an opinion paper. The next term I revised it further into a much shorter paper primarily on climate change.
The last time I used it was for a Speech class where I turned it into a PowerPoint presentation; it could be argued the class was more about style than content.
Are there elements of cheating in the above?

I don’t know if it was a university-wide rule, or just that every one of my professors said it wouldn’t fly with them, but either way, it was not pretty when people got caught at self-plagiarism.