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Year : 2013  |  Volume : 27  |  Issue : 1  |  Page : 1-2

Plagiarism: A concern for editors

1 Department of Pathology, Regional Institute of Medical Sciences, Imphal, India
2 Department of Plastic Surgery, Regional Institute of Medical Sciences, Imphal, India

Date of Web Publication17-Aug-2013

Correspondence Address:
Nepram Sanjib Singh
Department of Plastic Surgery, Regional Institute of Medical Sciences, Imphal
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Source of Support: None, Conflict of Interest: None

DOI: 10.4103/0972-4958.116619

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How to cite this article:
Laishram RS, Singh NS. Plagiarism: A concern for editors. J Med Soc 2013;27:1-2

How to cite this URL:
Laishram RS, Singh NS. Plagiarism: A concern for editors. J Med Soc [serial online] 2013 [cited 2021 Jun 21];27:1-2. Available from:

The word "plagiarism" literary means theft of another person's ideas or words without one's own attribution. [1] World Association of Medical Editors (WAME) defines plagiarism as a minimum of six consecutive words copied [2],[3] or when seven to 11 words overlapping a set of 30 letters. [4] Plagiarism thus implies copying of a part of previously published or unpublished study by a scientist without appropriate citation. [5] In an era where the medical science is expanding at an alarming pace, publishing a research work has become an important step, as medical journals offers the most reliable information. There are many reasons as to why a researcher publishes his work. The number of publications by a researcher measures his success.

Plagiarism may be intentional or unintentional. Herein, various types of plagiarism have been highlighted. [6]

  Plagiarism of Ideas Top

Plagiarism of ideas happens when an author uses the same idea and thought of another person and presents it as his own without proper acknowledgment. This is usually seen among postgraduate students who copy the ideas for their thesis based on the past research papers. [6]

  Direct Plagiarism (Plagiarism of Text) Top

Roig [7] described it as "Directly copying a portion of the text from another source without giving credit to its author or without enclosing the borrowed text in quotation marks." This type of plagiarism has become rampant with the advent of easy internet access, as the information is readily available and can be easily copied. But, on the contrary, free internet access has led to detect this type of plagiarism easily. Many medical editors use different soft ware like Safe Assign [8] and Cross Check [9] to check plagiarisms. The growing need for the number of publications among faculty members in medical institutions has led to this kind of plagiarism.

  Mosaic Plagiarism Top

This type of plagiarism has the highest number of incidence. [6] Here, the authors use a sentence or paragraph almost similar with that of the original source and adds a few words without proper quotation. This creates confusion whether the words are that of the author or that of the original source. This type of plagiarism has been described by the American Medical Association Manual of style as "borrowing the ideas and opinions from an original source and a few verbatim words or phrases without crediting the original author. In this case, the Plagiarist intertwines his or her own ideas and opinion with those of the original author, creating a confused plagiarized mass." [10]

  Self Plagiarism Top

This refers to the theft of one's own work. It is still a controversy whether self plagiarism actually amounts to misconduct. [11] The most common form is duplication of publication. Here, the author of a previously published paper submits the same manuscript to a different journal with a minor modification of the content or title. Other form of self plagiarism include redundant publication and augmented publication. [12]

The incidence of plagiarism is increasing worldwide, and it is quite common among the biomedical students. [12],[13],[14] Evidence indicates that plagiarism is extensively prevalent in most part of the globe. Satyanarayana has highlighted the affection of Indian science by plagiarism. [15] In Boston, one in 20 medical residency applications contained plagiarism. [16] The website of the society for scientific values shows that plagiarism is common in many countries. [17]

  Plagiarism: A Concern for Editors Top

Plagiarism has become a major threat to the integrity and sanctity of publications. It is a matter of immense concern among the editors of biomedical science journals. Aronson [18] has highlighted the incidence of plagiarism from the PubMed databases, which showed that over 700 entries had plagiarism. With the availability of the text similarity software like eTBLAST, more and more cases of plagiarism have come to surface. [19] Recent surveys have documented plagiarism as one of the most important concerns for biomedical journal editors. [20]

  Overcoming Plagiarism Top

To overcome the issue of different types of plagiarism, one needs to be well aware of it. Plagiarism can be detected or identified at various levels-at the level of the author, reviewer, and editor. The author can identify when he proofreads his or her manuscript before submitting it to any journal. If he has committed unintentional plagiarism, he can rectify it before submission. Every author should be aware that it is a crime to commit an intentional plagiarism. Although there is no general regulation or control of scientific research regarding plagiarism, intellectual honesty of researchers should be applicable in all situations. All the authors should strictly follow the rules of citing references, and references must contain full bibliographic information. Quotation marks should be used if more than six consecutive words are copied. Lastly, it should be noted that plagiarism can now be detected using software and one cannot escape detection. The reviewer plays the role of facilitator both for the editor and the author. The reviewer helps the editor by providing a critical review and makes specific recommendations for revision. The reviewer can also recommend rejection of an article when plagiarism is detected. Here, the editor plays a very important role. The final rejection or acceptance of an article lies with the editor of the journal. The editor can still reject an article even if it has been passed by the reviewer when he detects plagiarism in the article. Every ethical medical writer must always acknowledge the original source of an idea or text. Use of plagiarism detection software before submission of manuscript is the need of the hour, thereby helping the editors in publication of plagiarism-free quality medical journals. Lastly, all authors are requested to strive for a plagiarism-free publication in journal of medical sciences (e.g., J Med Soc), the only medical journal of Regional Institute of Medical Sciences, Imphal.

  References Top

1.Smith R. Research misconduct: The poisoning of the well. J R Soc Med 2006;99:232-7.  Back to cited text no. 1
2.World Association of Medical Editors (WAME) recommendation on publication ethics and policies for medical journals. Available from: [Last accessed on 2013 May 08].  Back to cited text no. 2
3.Committee on Publication Ethics (COPE). Code of conduct and best practice guidelines for journal editors. Available from: [Last accessed on 2013 May 08].  Back to cited text no. 3
4.Amstrong JD. Plagiarism-what is it, whom does it offend and how does one deal with it. AJR Am J Roentgenol 1993;161:149-84.  Back to cited text no. 4
5.Cross M. Policing plagiarism. The internet has made both copying other people′s work and detecting plagiarism much easier. BMJ 2007;10:335.  Back to cited text no. 5
6.Das N, Panjabi M. Plagiarism: Why is it such a big issue for medical writers? Perspect Clin Res 2011;2:67-71.  Back to cited text no. 6
[PUBMED]  Medknow Journal  
7.Roig M. Avoiding plagiarism, self plagiarism and other questionable writing practices: A guide to ethical writing. Available from: [Last accessed on 31 st August 2009.  Back to cited text no. 7
8.Chaudhuri J. Deterring digital plagiarism, how effective is the digital detection process? Webology 2008;5 (1), Article 50. Available from: [Last accessed on 6 th may 2013].  Back to cited text no. 8
9.Zhang H. Cross check: An effective tool for detecting plagiarism. Learn Publ 2010;23:9-14.  Back to cited text no. 9
10.Iverson C, Flanagin A, Fontanarosa PB, Glass RM, Glitman P, Lantz JC, et al. Americal Medical Association Manual of Style. A Guide for Authors and Editors. 9 th ed. Philadelphia: Williams and Wilkins; 1998. p. 104-6.  Back to cited text no. 10
11.Broome ME. Self-plagiarism: Oxymoron, fair use or scientific misconduct? Nurs Outlook 2004;52:273-4.  Back to cited text no. 11
12.Roig M. Plagiarism and self plagiarism: What every author should know? Biochemia Medica 2010;20:295-300.  Back to cited text no. 12
13.Ryan G, Bonanno H, Krass I, Scouller K, Smith L. Undergraduate and postgraduate pharmacy student′s perception of plagiarism and academic honesty. Am J Pharm Educ 2009;73:105.  Back to cited text no. 13
14.Rennie SC, Crosby JR. Are tomorrow′s doctors honest? Questionaire study exploring medical students′ attitudes and reported behavior on academic misconduct. BMJ 2001;322:274-5.  Back to cited text no. 14
15.Satyanarayana K. Plagiarism: A scourge afflicting the Indian science. Indian J Med Res 2010;131:373-6.  Back to cited text no. 15
[PUBMED]  Medknow Journal  
16.Segal S, Gelfand BJ, Hurwitz S, Berkowitz L, Ashley SW, Nadel ES, et al. Plagiarism in residency application essays. Ann Intern Med 2010;153:112-20.  Back to cited text no. 16
17.Society for Scientific values. Cases of misconduct investigated by SSU. Available from: [Last accessed on 23 jul 2010].  Back to cited text no. 17
18.Aronson JK. Plagiarism-please don′t copy. Br J Clin Pharmacol 2007;64:403-5.  Back to cited text no. 18
19.Errami M, Garner H. A tale of two citations. Nature 2008;401:397-99.  Back to cited text no. 19
20.Wager E, Fiack S, Graft C, Robinson A, Rowlands I. Science journal editors′ views on publication ethics: Results of an international survey. J Med Ethics 2009;35:348-53.  Back to cited text no. 20


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  In this article
Plagiarism of Ideas
Direct Plagiaris...
Mosaic Plagiarism
Self Plagiarism
Plagiarism: A Co...
Overcoming Plagi...

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