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Plagiarism in the Academy


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T. Scott Plutchak's presentation from the 2009 CrossRef Annual Meeting

Published in: Education, Technology
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Plagiarism in the Academy

  1. 1. Plagiarism in the Academy: Now What Do We Do? T. Scott Plutchak UAB Lister Hill Library November 10, 2009 [no competing interests]
  2. 2. Plagiarize 1.  To steal or use (the ideas or writings of another) as one’s own 2.  To appropriate passages or ideas from and use them as one’s own. The American Heritage Dictionary, 2nd edition.
  3. 3. Plagiarism The use of others' published and unpublished ideas or words (or other intellectual property) without attribution or permission, and presenting them as new and original rather than derived from an existing source. The intent and effect of plagiarism is to mislead the reader as to the contributions of the plagiarizer. Publication Ethics for Medical Journals. WAME Publication Ethics Committee
  4. 4. Nylenna M, Simonsen S. Scientific misconduct: a new approach to prevention. Lancet. 2006 Jun 10;367(9526):1882-4.
  5. 5. •  7,000,000 Medline Abstracts •  70,000 “highly similar records” •  Estimate 50,000 true duplicates •  1/3 may be simultaneous submission
  6. 6. •  9,120 high levels of citation similarity with no duplicate authors (2/20/09) •  212 pairs with signs of potential plagiarism •  Sent questionnaire to authors/editors of 163 pairs
  7. 7. Authors of earlier article •  We were very sorry and somewhat surprised when we found their article. I don’t want to accept them as scientists. •  We DID NOT give any permission to duplicate or publish our articles… I can’t imagine how it is possible that people DO things like that. •  Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery?
  8. 8. Authors of later article •  We as coauthors look only at the methodology of research papers. … The principal author is responsible for its credit and blame. •  I would like to offer my apology to the authors of the original paper… I was not aware of the fact I am required to take such permission.
  9. 9. Editors of earlier article •  None of the authors or the Editors seem inclined to pursue this, but we are grateful to you for letting us know about it. •  It is my understanding that copying someone else’s description virtually word-for-word, as these authors have done, is considered a compliment to the person whose words were copied.
  10. 10. Editors of later article •  Believe me, the data in any paper is the responsibility of the authors and not the journal. •  This news has taken us by surprise and a sense of deep concern. We are calling an emergency meeting of the editorial board… •  In the future I hope that every article can be scrutinized prior to review by similar software.
  11. 11. How does this happen? Ignorance of accepted norms Language difficulties Intentional deception
  12. 12. 2 Factors The level of confusion over acceptable publishing behavior The perception that there is a high likelihood of escaping detection (Errami & Garner, Nature, 24 Jan 2008)
  13. 13. “If journal editors were to use more frequently the new computational tools to detect incidents of duplicate publication – and advertise that they will do so – much of the problem is likely to take care of itself” (Errami & Garner)
  14. 14. But that’s still not enough… •  Figure manipulation •  Conflicts of interest •  Training… training… training…
  15. 15. Chicago Collaborative Founding Members Association of Academic Health Sciences Libraries Association of American Medical Colleges Council of Academic Societies Association of American Publishers Professional and Scholarly Publishing Division Association of Learned and Professional Society Publishers Federation of American Societies for Experimental Biology DC Principles International Association of Sciences, Technical & Medical Publishers International Committee of Medical Journal Editors Society for Scholarly Publishing
  16. 16. The Bottom Line •  Clear statements of expectations in Instructions to Authors •  Adherence to policies advocated by international bodies •  Incorporating text-checking into the workflow •  Establishing COPE-based policies for handling allegations of misconduct
  17. 17.