Plagiarism awareness for researchers
Researchers must consider plagiarism awareness for the students they teach and supervise, plagiarism awareness for their own work, and how publishers manage plagiarism.
Plagiarism by students
All undergraduate students will receive instruction from the library on Plagiarism Awareness within their taught course. Familiarise yourself with the following:
- The Library’s guidance on Plagiarism and academic integrity for students
- College's Plagiarism, Academic Integrity & Exam Offences information
- Any local guidance provided by your department
Students can plagiarise deliberately. Accidental plagiarism can also occur as the result of undeveloped academic skills or lack of familiarity with academic writing practice. Providing help with writing and academic skills can be hugely beneficial in reducing accidental plagiarism.
Many departments now use Turnitin text matching software as a method of detecting potential plagiarism in students’ work. Digital Education Services maintain Turnitin and offer support and guidance in its use.
Plagiarism in your own work
Plagiarism is a form of academic misconduct and you should ensure that you are familiar with the College's policies on academic misconduct relating to examination offences and research misconduct. When a person copies and reproduces another person’s work, this is usually done with very little thought about or interpretation of the work being copied. This means that the ideas, concepts, arguments, methodological processes and so on that are being presented in the original work are unlikely to be truly understood by the person who has copied that work.
It is essential you know what is considered to be plagiaristic behaviour within your subject field. Pay attention to any local guidance you are given, for example, the accepted use of computer code. It is important to familiarise yourself with ‘common knowledge' within your subject or field, as the misunderstanding of what is and is not common knowledge can lead to plagiarism.
If you are submitting work for publication, be aware of self-plagiarism. This form of plagiarism (as well as others) is of concern to publishers, so you must be careful when submitting work for publication that you have correctly cited and acknowledged any of your previous work. This also applies when submitting work to several publications; if you submit the same work and this is discovered (it frequently is), you may find that you are not published at all.
Additional College resources:
Plagiarism detection by publishers
There are currently no clear set of standards for plagiarism detection by publishers. Some publishers, research institutions and other organisations have developed guidelines to advise authors in this area, some of which are outlined below.
This page is not exhaustive and it is important to familiarise yourself with the plagiarism policies of any journal or conference to which you submit your work.
Publishers routinely use software to identify potential text-matches and similarities to verify the originality of papers submitted to their journals.
Most major publishers are members of Similarity Check which uses iThenticate software to scan papers for instances of text matching i.e. plagiarism. Articles are compared against a database containing web pages as well as published material including journals and books.
This software is similar to Turnitin, software used by the College to detect text matches in student work which could potentially be plagiarism. Staff can submit their papers to Turnitin but must be aware that the database content is not identical to that of iThenticate.
Most publishers provide guidelines for authors wishing to submit an article to a journal, which will include plagiarism policies and their methods for detection.
When you submit your work to considering submission to journal publishers, consider the following:
- The publishers’ and journal editors’ definition of plagiarism.
- IEEE plagiarism guidelines
- The editor of Anesthesia and Analgesia outlines considerations for plagiarism
- Self-plagiarism, or duplicate publication, or multiple submissions to different journals.
- Publishers’ and journal editorial procedures if author plagiarism is suspected.
Self-plagiarism involves using one’s own prior work without acknowledging its reuse. Editors and publishers consider it as serious (if not more) as standard plagiarism. Practices that can result in a charge of self-plagiarism include:
- Text recycling – reusing content that has previously been published
- Redundant or duplicate publication – authors must avoid multiple submissions of the same paper/same data to different journals
- ‘Salami slicing’ – reporting results of one study/project in separate publications when one would suffice
- Misuse of copyright – once a paper is published the copyright is held by the publisher and the work does not belong to the author
- Nature’s plagiarism and duplicate plagiarism policy
- The American Chemical Society Ethical Guidelines to Publication of Chemical Research (PDF)
The majority of journals should provide guidance on plagiarism, including self-plagiarism, in their author guidelines, or as part of the publisher’s policy on publication.
- The Lancet’s editorial approach to plagiarism detection.
- Preferred referencing style
- Acta Biomaterialia Guide for Authors.
General guidance for authors
Ethical behaviour and good practice is expected at all levels of the research process. Plagiarism is usually a very contentious issue, and a number of organisations provide guidance to authors and researchers; guidance is also available for journal editors dealing with cases of possible misconduct.
The Committee on Publications Ethics (COPE) is a charitable membership-based organisation that provides advice to editors and publishers when dealing with cases of possible misconduct by authors, including plagiarism, with over 6000 publishers/editors are members worldwide.
One of COPE’s resources is a database of all cases it has advised on since 1997. These cases cover a variety of practices/topics related to misconduct, such as:
- Multiple submissions
- Overlapping publications (e .g. sa lami sli cing)
- Plagiarism (this covers a huge range of types of plagiarism)
- Redundant publication