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Is it plagiarism if someone copies his own cover letter?

  1. Sep 24, 2011 #1
    Sometimes in academia they say that copying parts, or a whole, of someone's own work is considered palgiarism. Does this also apply while writing several cover letters for different job applications? (From a legal, social norms and/or ethical perspective)

    If it's OK; how is it different from someone copying their own academic work for different assignment?
  2. jcsd
  3. Sep 24, 2011 #2
    No, it is not plagiarism. Furthermore, I doubt anyone would care.
  4. Sep 24, 2011 #3
    That doesn't fit any definition of plagiarism.
  5. Sep 24, 2011 #4


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    A cover letter is not an example of scholarship.
  6. Sep 24, 2011 #5
    It may be plagiarism if the copyright is held by one publishing house and you take material from that publication without permission or attribution naming the copyright holder.
  7. Sep 24, 2011 #6


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    But copyright law also applies to works of fiction :rolleyes:
  8. Sep 24, 2011 #7
    Thanks everyone. Yep I personally don't see it as plagiarism if someone write his own cover letter, then use the same text, or parts of it, several times when sending other job applications.

    But if the same thing is done in academia, it's almost always considered as plagiarism e.g. submitting the same exact paper to two different classes.

    Or perhaps in academic "self-plagiarism" is stretching the plagiarism concept a bit too much :/
  9. Sep 24, 2011 #8
    But even then, it's okay, as long as you cite yourself. :tongue:
  10. Sep 24, 2011 #9


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    I think what you're confusing here is the fact that when you submit a paper as a class assignment, you are effectively claiming that it is original work that you created, unless otherwise cited. There are clear academic consequences for doing this - including expulsion from your program and/or school.

    For a cover letter, you make generally no claim of uniqueness - although, if you really want to get the job, it's a good idea to tailor the letter to the specific employer.
  11. Sep 24, 2011 #10


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    This is a very strange mix. Cover letters are publishes works with attributions of authorship??? Since when do cover letters have any obligations that publications have?
  12. Sep 25, 2011 #11


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    They don't. This entire thread is based on a misunderstanding of what "plagiarism" is, and what can and cannot be plagiarized under the law.
  13. Sep 25, 2011 #12


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    'They' would be incorrect. Copying one's own work does not involve plagiarism.

    Plagiarism means copying/misappropriating another's work (e.g., writings, thoughts, expressions, ideas) and misrepresentating as one's own (original) work.
  14. Sep 25, 2011 #13
    No it doesn't. In fact most employers would prefer if you use the standard format for cover letters and not do anything too original as far as format goes.
  15. Sep 27, 2011 #14
    Turning in the same paper for 2 different classes is not plagiarism. You're just repeating yourself to different audiences. There's nothing wrong with that. I had several teachers that encouraged us to do exactly that.
  16. Sep 27, 2011 #15


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    But this policy is not universal. If the class assignment is to produce new scholarly product, then reusing an old paper does not complete that assignment. The best approach is to ask the professor. Also, universities will generally have a code of conduct that specifies the definition and consequences of so-called self-plagiarism.

    But this is getting off-topic; the original question was about cover letters, which are not examples of academic scholarship.
  17. Sep 27, 2011 #16
    I must admit that yes; plagiarism and citation rules sometimes can be very confusing to me. I personally see no problem, as also mentioned by some of members above, if someone submits the exact academic work two times as assignments to different classes and would not consider it plagiarism. I think class rules should be respected, but accusing someone of plagiarism means accusing his honor and reputation (as in, this accusation is much more than just considering the situation as a failure to meet the paper requirements).

    But also as some of us stated above, many academic institutions consider it as plagiarism.

    The reason I brought the example of someone copying his own academic work is that in this category and in writing cover letters, the person is copying his own work -- and in a way if he permits himself to "not cite" himself, then there is should be no problem in general. But some rules/laws in human society are not strictly logical but more an option of convention and/or social norms.

    Sometimes too much copyrights/citations laws can make things a bit too stressful :confused:
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