Report of a case of cyberplagiarism--and reflections on detecting and preventing academic misconduct using the Internet. (1/41)

BACKGROUND: The Internet is an invaluable tool for researchers and certainly also a source of inspiration. However, never before has it been so easy to plagiarise the work of others by clipping together (copy & paste) an apparently original paper or review paper from paragraphs on several websites. Moreover, the threshold of stealing ideas, whether lifting paragraphs or perhaps even whole articles from the Internet, seems to be much lower than copying sections from books or articles. In this article, we shall use the term cyberplagarism to describe the case where someone, intentionally or inadvertently, is taking information, phrases, or thoughts from the World Wide Web (WWW) and using it in a scholarly article without attributing the origin. OBJECTIVES: To illustrate a case of cyberplagiarism and to discuss potential Methods using the Internet to detect scientific misconduct. This report was also written to stimulate debate and thought among journal editors about the use of state of the art technology to fight cyberplagiarism. METHODS: A case of a recent incident of cyberplagiarism, which occurred in the Journal of the Royal College of Surgeons of Edinburgh (JRCSEd), is reported. A systematic search of the Internet for informatics tools that help to identify plagiarism and duplicate publication was conducted. RESULTS: This is the first in-depth report of an incident where significant portions of a web article were lifted into a scholarly article without attribution. In detecting and demonstrating this incident, a tool at, has proven to be particularly useful. The plagiarism report generated by this tool stated that more than one third (36%) of the JRCSEd article consisted of phrases that were directly copied from multiple websites, without giving attribution to this fact. CONCLUSIONS: Cyberplagiarism may be a widespread and increasing problem. Plagiarism could be easily detected by journal editors and peer-reviewers if informatics tools would be applied. There is a striking gap between what is technically possible and what is in widespread use. As a consequence of the case described in this report, JMIR has taken the lead in applying information technology to prevent and fight plagiarism by routinely checking new submissions for evidence of cyberplagiarism.  (+info)

Digital plagiarism--the Web giveth and the Web shall taketh. (2/41)

Publishing students' and researchers' papers on the World Wide Web (WWW) facilitates the sharing of information within and between academic communities. However, the ease of copying and transporting digital information leaves these authors' ideas open to plagiarism. Using tools such as the database, which compares submissions to reports and papers available on the Internet, could discover instances of plagiarism, revolutionize the peer review process, and raise the quality of published research everywhere.  (+info)

Perceptions of Canadian dental faculty and students about appropriate penalties for academic dishonesty. (3/41)

The purpose of this investigation was to a) compare the opinions of Canadian faculty and students as regards to what they felt was an appropriate penalty for particular academic offenses and b) to analyze the results and create a jurisprudence grid to serve as a guideline for appropriate disciplinary action. Two hundred questionnaires were distributed to the ten dental colleges in Canada. Each college was asked to have ten faculty and ten students complete the survey. A response rate of 100 percent was achieved for students and 92 percent for faculty. The questionnaire required respondents to select what they felt were appropriate penalties for a list of fifteen academic offenses and to render judgment on three specific cases. Statistical analysis of survey responses led to the following conclusions: 1) students gave equal or more lenient penalties than faculty for the same offense; 2) extenuating circumstances introduced via case presentations altered penalty choice only slightly; and 3) offenses could be grouped to correspond with appropriate penalties, thereby establishing a jurisprudence grid that may serve as a guideline for adjudication committees.  (+info)

Nobel Prize winners for literature as palliative for scientific English. (4/41)

Plagiarism causes a serious concern in scientific literature. I distinguish two types of plagiarism. What is routinely highlighted and discussed is the reprehensible type of stealing another author's ideas and words. This type I categorize as "heterotrophic" plagiarism. A more prevalent and less-discussed type of plagiarism is the verbatim use of same sentences repetitively by authors in their publications. This I categorize as "autotrophic" plagiarism. Though harmless per se, autotrophic plagiarism is equally taxing on the readers. The occurrence of autotrophic plagiarism is mainly caused by the lack of proficiency in the current lingua franca of science, ie, English. The writings of 22 Nobel literature laureates who wrote in English, especially their travelogues, essays, and letters to the press can be used for benefit of improving one's own vocabulary and writing skills and style. I suggest the writings of three literati--Bernard Shaw, Bertrand Russell, and Ernest Hemingway--as palliatives for autotrophic plagiarism in scientific publishing.  (+info)

Prevalence of plagiarism among medical students. (5/41)

AIM: To determine the prevalence of plagiarism among medical students in writing essays. METHODS: During two academic years, 198 second year medical students attending Medical Informatics course wrote an essay on one of four offered articles. Two of the source articles were available in an electronic form and two in printed form. Two (one electronic and one paper article) were considered less complex and the other two more complex. The essays were examined using plagiarism detection software "WCopyfind," which counted the number of matching phrases with six or more words. Plagiarism rate, expressed as the percentage of the plagiarized text, was calculated as a ratio of the absolute number of matching words and the total number of words in the essay. RESULTS: Only 17 (9%) of students did not plagiarize at all and 68 (34%) plagiarized less than 10% of the text. The average plagiarism rate (% of plagiarized text) was 19% (5-95% percentile=0-88). Students who were strictly warned not to plagiarize had a higher total word count in their essays than students who were not warned (P=0.002) but there was no difference between them in the rate of plagiarism. Students with higher grades in Medical Informatics exam plagiarized less than those with lower grades (P=0.015). Gender, subject source, and complexity had no influence on the plagiarism rate. CONCLUSIONS: Plagiarism in writing essays is common among medical students. An explicit warning is not enough to deter students from plagiarism. Detection software can be used to trace and evaluate the rate of plagiarism in written student assays.  (+info)

Ethics and scientific publication. (6/41)

This article summarizes the major categories of ethical violations encountered during submission, review, and publication of scientific articles. We discuss data fabrication and falsification, plagiarism, redundant and duplicate publication, conflict of interest, authorship, animal and human welfare, and reviewer responsibility. In each section, pertinent historical background and citation of relevant regulations and statutes are provided. Furthermore, a specific case(s) derived from actual situations is(are) presented. These cases were chosen to highlight the complexities that investigators and journals must face when dealing with ethical issues. A series of discussion questions follow each case. It is our hope that by increasing education and awareness of ethical matters relevant to scientific investigation and publication, deviations from appropriate conduct will be reduced.  (+info)

Health information literacy and competencies of information age students: results from the interactive online Research Readiness Self-Assessment (RRSA). (7/41)

BACKGROUND: In an era of easy access to information, university students who will soon enter health professions need to develop their information competencies. The Research Readiness Self-Assessment (RRSA) is based on the Information Literacy Competency Standards for Higher Education, and it measures proficiency in obtaining health information, evaluating the quality of health information, and understanding plagiarism. OBJECTIVE: This study aimed to measure the proficiency of college-age health information consumers in finding and evaluating electronic health information; to assess their ability to discriminate between peer-reviewed scholarly resources and opinion pieces or sales pitches; and to examine the extent to which they are aware of their level of health information competency. METHODS: An interactive 56-item online assessment, the Research Readiness Self-Assessment (RRSA), was used to measure the health information competencies of university students. We invited 400 students to take part in the study, and 308 participated, giving a response rate of 77%. The RRSA included multiple-choice questions and problem-based exercises. Declarative and procedural knowledge were assessed in three domains: finding health information, evaluating health information, and understanding plagiarism. Actual performance was contrasted with self-reported skill level. Upon answering all questions, students received a results page that summarized their numerical results and displayed individually tailored feedback composed by an experienced librarian. RESULTS: Even though most students (89%) understood that a one-keyword search is likely to return too many documents, few students were able to narrow a search by using multiple search categories simultaneously or by employing Boolean operators. In addition, nearly half of the respondents had trouble discriminating between primary and secondary sources of information as well as between references to journal articles and other published documents. When presented with questionable websites on nonexistent nutritional supplements, only 50% of respondents were able to correctly identify the website with the most trustworthy features. Less than a quarter of study participants reached the correct conclusion that none of the websites made a good case for taking the nutritional supplements. Up to 45% of students were unsure if they needed to provide references for ideas expressed in paraphrased sentences or sentences whose structure they modified. Most respondents (84%) believed that their research skills were good, very good, or excellent. Students' self-perceptions of skill tended to increase with increasing level of education. Self-reported skills were weakly correlated with actual skill level, operationalized as the overall RRSA score (Cronbach alpha = .78 for 56 RRSA items). CONCLUSIONS: While the majority of students think that their research skills are good or excellent, many of them are unable to conduct advanced information searches, judge the trustworthiness of health-related websites and articles, and differentiate between various information sources. Students' self-reports may not be an accurate predictor of their actual health information competencies.  (+info)

Ethical dilemmas in scientific publication: pitfalls and solutions for editors. (8/41)

Editors of scientific journals need to be conversant with the mechanisms by which scientific misconduct is amplified by publication practices. This paper provides definitions, ways to document the extent of the problem, and examples of editorial attempts to counter fraud. Fabrication, falsification, duplication, ghost authorship, gift authorship, lack of ethics approval, non-disclosure, 'salami' publication, conflicts of interest, auto-citation, duplicate submission, duplicate publications, and plagiarism are common problems. Editorial misconduct includes failure to observe due process, undue delay in reaching decisions and communicating these to authors, inappropriate review procedures, and confounding a journal's content with its advertising or promotional potential. Editors also can be admonished by their peers for failure to investigate suspected misconduct, failure to retract when indicated, and failure to abide voluntarily by the six main sources of relevant international guidelines on research, its reporting and editorial practice. Editors are in a good position to promulgate reasonable standards of practice, and can start by using consensus guidelines on publication ethics to state explicitly how their journals function. Reviewers, editors, authors and readers all then have a better chance to understand, and abide by, the rules of publishing.  (+info)