Study reveals frequent instances of plagiarism

Plagiarism is especially difficult to identify in academic literature. Both creative and scholarly writing, depend on a  reserve of influences that proceed them, but only the former is permitted ethical negotiations if the presentation is deemed novel enough. Macdonald didn’t invent goblins, nor did Tolkien, yet their interpretations vary considerably-debarring any charges of fabrication. Academicians aren’t afforded demarcations like voice, execution or style.  Moreover, the volume of published work is much higher (and increasing) in academia, with over 2 million papers accepted for review last year alone. Both factors forgive the potential for unintended cribbing within in reason.

According to a new report conducted by the Committee on Publication Ethics of over 650 journal editors, 58% of respondents occasioned detecting plagiarism as the most serious issue affecting their particular field of study,  followed by fraudulent submissions (44%) and data or image fabrication (31%).

“This research is part of a renewed commitment by COPE to increase the diversity of our services for all disciplinary and interdisciplinary fields. These findings provide important information about the specific resource needs of our editors and publishers in numerous arts, humanities, and social sciences fields,” commented Deborah Poff, COPE Chair, to Physorg.

“Promoting integrity in research and its publication”

Primarily, COPE’s intention to encourage ethical guidelines pertains to scholarly publishing. Over the course of more than two decades, this priority has led to the perception that their practices fail to address similar issues in the fields of Arts, Humanities and Social Sciences. To combat this reputation the nonprofit organization carried its first extensive study with these disciplines in specifically in mind, finding that editors encounter similar setbacks across all fields of study: Difficulty identifying and mitigating frequent instances of plagiarism, remaining inclusive while also addressing writing quality and language barriers,  handling biases in peer reviewer comments, mage fabrication issues, fraudulent submissions, and intellectual property and copyright issues. All fields encountered all of these concerns to some degree or another-but the degree itself was further distinguished by region and discipline.  For instance Business, Economics and Finance editors occasioned ethical malpractices the most often.

Again, even when one sets out to adhere to ethical guidelines as they understand them, lapses can occur. Ethics are defined by a checklist of moral principles that are famously themselves ill-defined. Whatever leg of study you occupy, we are all composites wrought by a panoply of observations and influences. There’s a little Gauguin in Van Gogh and a little Van Gogh in Picasso. There aren’t really any new ideas, there are just new combinations of old ones. Avoiding the legal ramifications of copyright infringement is plain enough, but obeying the ethical ones takes more regimen. Ultimately it would seem influence is marked by craft and masked by execution while plagiarism is just the opposite.

A paranoid mind might do well to visit Michaela Panter’s exhaustive exploration on the subject. Panter,  a Senior Academic Editor at AJE and PhD in Immunobiology, penned a series of papers intimately instructing one on the nuance of descrying literary piracy in all of its many forms.

Poff of COPE concludes, “It is because of these differences that we believe it is incredibly valuable to support COPE in this study. Its findings offer a unique opportunity to gather an evidence-base for the development of further publication ethics guidance specifically for these disciplines, whilst also providing the foundation for more research into this crucial area.”