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Plagiarism and Self-plagiarism in the Sciences*. Miguel Roig, Ph.D. Associate Professor Department of Psychology roigm@stjohns.edu. *Many of the ideas and some of the slides in this presentation have been shown elsewhere. Plagiarism.

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plagiarism and self plagiarism in the sciences

Plagiarism and Self-plagiarism in the Sciences*

Miguel Roig, Ph.D.

Associate Professor

Department of Psychologyroigm@stjohns.edu

*Many of the ideas and some of the slides in this presentation have been shown elsewhere

slide2

Plagiarism

We recognize it when we see it . . . most of the time and, generally, when it is blatant

some dictionary definitions
Some Dictionary Definitions¹
  • “The action of using or copying someone else’s idea or work and pretending that you thought of it or created it” (Collins).
  • “To take words, ideas, etc., from someone else’s work and use them in one’s own work without admitting one has done so”(Longman).
  • “To steal and pass off as one’s own the ideas or words of another” (Webster).

¹taken from Decoo, W. (2002). Crisis on campus: Confronting academic misconduct.

The MIT Press: Cambridge, MA

the latest comprehensive us study from donald mccabe et al
The Latest Comprehensive US Study From Donald McCabe, et al.
  • Internet plagiarism is on the rise. A 23-campus study published in 2002 revealed that 38% admitted to having plagiarized the previous year.
  • 25% of graduate students surveyed admitted to “cut-and-paste” plagiarism.
student cheating and plagiarism
Student Cheating and Plagiarism
  • The overall academic dishonesty literature indicates that between 40% to 60% of college students admit that they plagiarize and similar proportions admit to cheating on examinations.
  • There are other common academically dishonest student activities that are seldom investigated (e.g., use of fraudulent excuses).
student cheating and plagiarism1
Student Cheating and Plagiarism
  • Plagiarism also occurs in professional schools:
    • Journalism school
    • Law school
    • Engineering school
    • Medical school
cases of plagiarism investigated by us government
Cases of plagiarism investigated by US government
  • Office of Research Integrity (ORI). From 1992-2005 ORI reported a total of 159 cases of scientific misconduct, 19 (12%) of which involved plagiarism.
  • In a similar time period, the National Science Foundation (NSF) reported that 66% of their cases of scientific misconduct involved a finding of plagiarism.

(the discrepancy between ORI and NSF cases involves differences in how each defines plagiarism)

cases of plagiarism in china
Cases of plagiarism in China
  • From 1999 to 2005, there were 542 cases investigated by the NSF of China. There were 60 cases found to be misconduct.
  • 34% of cases involved plagiarism.

Yidong, G. (2005). China Science Foundation Takes Action Against 60 Grantees. Science, 309, 1798-1799.

slide10

Gibelman, & Gelman (2003)

Plagiarism by Faculty/Scholars in the News 2000-2003

University Individual Field______

Trinity International University (CA) Dean Winston F. Frost Law

Monash University (Australia) Vice Chancellor Sociology David Robinson

Kumaun University (India) Balwant Singh Rajput Physics

University of Albany (NY) Louis Roberts Humanities

Wesley College (DE) President Scott D. Miller Unknown

TV Commentator; Scholar; Lecturer Doris Kearns Goodwin History

University of New Orleans (LA) Stephen Ambrose History

slide11

Gibelman, & Gelman (2003)

Plagiarism by Faculty/Scholars in the News 2000-2003

University Individual Field___

Mount Holyoke (MA) Joseph J. Ellis History

Hamilton College (NY) President Eugene Tobin Unknown

Cornell University (NY) David A. Levitsky Nutrition

Heald College (Various locations) Senior Vice President, Unknown

Roger C. Anderson

Liverpool Hospital, University Bruce Hall Immunol.

of New South Wales (Australia)

Peking University (China) Wang Mingming Anthrop.

slide12

Gibelman, & Gelman (2003)

Plagiarism by Faculty/Scholars in the News 2000-2003

University Individual Field___

Boston University (MA) John J. Schulz Commun.

University of Pirarus (Greece) Prof. Assima Kopoulos Engin.

University of Texas Health Center Momiao Xiong Health Sc.

U.S. Naval Academy (MD) Brian VanDeMark History

Florida Atlantic University Lindsey S. Hamlin Intern. William T. Ryan Business

____________________________________________________________________

Gibelman, M. & Gelman, S. R. (2003). Plagiarism in Academia: Trends and Implications. Accountability in Research: Policies & Quality Assurance, 10, 229-252.

martinson et al s 2005 study
Martinson, et al.’s (2005) study

A recent study by Martinson, et al., indicates that of 3,247 US scientists:

  • 1.4% use another’s ideas without obtaining permission or giving due credit.
  • 4.7 publish the same data or results in two or more publications.
  • 33% admit to some other form of ethically questionable misbehavior.

Martinson, B. C., Anderson, M. S., & de Vries, R. (2005). Scientists behaving badly. Nature, 435, 737-738.

plagiarism is probably more common than the data seem to indicate
Plagiarism is probably more common than the data seem to indicate

There is every reason to believe that the existing literature significantly underestimates the extent of the problem.

Why?

among the reasons are
Among the reasons are:
  • Limitations of survey research.
  • Some cases are kept “hidden”.
  • Many students and a significant number of professionals plagiarize in subtle ways and these cases are sometimes difficult to recognize.
  • Plagiarism has not been fully operationalized, it is poorly defined, and the available guidance is inconsistent.
much of the evidence for plagiarism is from survey research
Much of the evidence for plagiarism is from survey research
  • Items tend to reflect the unique way in which concepts and categories are presented by the researchers
  • Social desirability of items or of respondents
  • Possibly biased samples (volunteers)
  • Reliance of memory of events/behaviors
slide19

Many students and a significant number of professionals plagiarize in subtle ways and these cases are sometimes difficult to recognize

plagiarism is more common than the research indicates
Plagiarism Is More Common Than the Research Indicates
  • There are those who believe that as long as a citation is included, they can simply appropriate portions of text from another source and use that text as their own writing.
  • Julliard (1994) found that physicians, but not most medical students or English faculty hold the above view.

Julliard, K. (1993). Perceptions of plagiarism in the use of other author's language. Family

Medicine, 26, 356-360.

plagiarism is more common than the research indicates1
Plagiarism Is More Common Than the Research Indicates
  • Others believe that, as long as you can change a word here or there in a sentence, the resulting writing constitutes an acceptable paraphrase and not plagiarism.
plagiarism and paraphrasing criteria of college professors please complete the pks

Plagiarism and paraphrasing criteria of college professorsPlease complete the PKS

study instructions
Study Instructions

Assume that you want to include the information from the Zenhausern paragraph in your paper and are considering the re-written versions shown below. Please examine each re-written paragraph carefully, compare it with the original version above, and circle the appropriate abbreviation to indicate whether, in your opinion, the re‑written version constitutes a case of plagiarism (P), not plagiarism, that is, the paragraph has been legitimately paraphrased (NP), or you simply cannot determine (CD) whether the re-written version has been plagiarized or not. In making your decision please assume that when the author and year of the original text (i.e., Zenhausern, 1978) is cited in the re-written version, or if a footnote appears in the re-written version, the cited work would also appear in the paper's reference section or bibliography.

slide24

Percentage of college professors (first row; n = 138) and of psychology professors (second row; n = 53) who responded to the various paragraphs

___________________________________________________________________

Plagiarized Not Plagiarized Cannot Determine

___________________________________________________________________

Paragraph 1 92% (126) 7% (10) 1% (2)

96% (51) 3% (2) 0% (0)

Paragraph 2 83% (114) 12% (17) 5% (7)

92% (49) 6% (3) 2% (1)

Paragraph 3 81% (111) 13% (18) 6% (9)

81% (43) 9% (5) 9% (5)

Paragraph 4 48% (66) 44% (60) 9% (12)

57% (30) 36% (19) 8% (4)

*Paragraph 5 4% (5) 94% (129) 3% (4)

6% (3) 93% (49) 2% (1)

*Paragraph 6 4% (5) 91% (126) 5% (7) 2% (1) 93% (49) 6% (3)

________________________________________________________From: Roig, M. (2001). Plagiarism and paraphrasing criteria of college and university professors Ethics and Behavior(11) 3, 307-323.

slide25
Percentage of college professors (first row; n = 191) and students (second row; n = 231) who responded to the various paragraphs

___________________________________________________________________

Plagiarized Not Plagiarized Cannot Determine

___________________________________________________________________

Paragraph 1 93% (177) 6% (12) 1% (2)

73% (170) 18% (41) 9% (20)

Paragraph 2 85% (163) 10% (20) 4% (8)

57% (131) 29% (67) 14% (33)

Paragraph 3 81% (154) 12% (23) 7% (14)

62% (144) 21% (48) 17% (39)

Paragraph 4 50% (96) 41% (79) 8% (16)

19% (43) 65% (150) 17% (38)

*Paragraph 5 4% (8) 93% (178) 3% (5)

7% (17) 82% (189) 11% (25)

*Paragraph 6 3% (6) 92% (175) 5% (10)14% (32) 62% (144) 24% (55)

________________________________________________________

Student data from: Roig, M. (1997). Can college undergraduate determine

whether text has been plagiarized? The Psychological Record, 47, 113-122.

paraphrasing exercise

Paraphrasing Exercise

Writing about mental imagery

how would you paraphrase the following paragraph
How would you paraphrase the following paragraph?

ORIGINAL

Since subjective and objective tests of imagery ability have not resulted in predicted performance differences, the only way to determine if a person thinks visually or nonvisually is to ask that question directly. ... One important finding is that many nonvisual thinkers have rather vivid imagery, but they can state with confidence that they do not think in pictures" (Zenhausern, 1978, p. 382).

Zenhausern, R. (1978). Imagery, cerebral dominance, and style of thinking: Unified field model. Bulletin of the Psychonomic Society, 12, 381‑384.

appropriate and inappropriate paraphrasing
ORIGINAL

Since subjective and objective tests of imagery ability have not resulted in predicted performance differences, the only way to determine if a person thinks visually or nonvisually is to ask that question directly. ... One important finding is that many nonvisual thinkers have rather vivid imagery, but they can state with confidence that they do not think in pictures" (Zenhausern, 1978, p. 382).

INAPPROPRIATELY PARAPHRASED VERSION

Given that objective and subjective tests of imagery havenot produced predicted differences in performance, the only way to determine if a person thinks visually or nonvisually is to ask that question directly. An interesting finding is that some nonvisual thinkers have vivid imagery, but they can say with a lot of confidence that they do not think in pictures (Zenhausern, 1978).

Appropriate and inappropriate paraphrasing
appropriate and inappropriate paraphrasing1
ORIGINAL

Since subjective and objective tests of imagery ability have not resulted in predicted performance differences, the only way to determine if a person thinks visually or nonvisually is to ask that question directly. ... One important finding is that many nonvisual thinkers have rather vivid imagery, but they can state with confidence that they do not think in pictures" (Zenhausern, 1978, p. 382).

APPROPRIATELY PARAPHRASED VERSION

   Zenhausern (1978) reports that various types of instruments designed to measure imagery have yielded inconsistent results. He suggests that the only technique that will tell us whether someone thinks visually or not is to ask the person directly. However, this author also notes that some individuals who admit that they do not think in pictures report having very “vivid imagery” (p. 382).

Appropriate and inappropriate paraphrasing
paraphrasing exercise1

Paraphrasing Exercise

Writing about astrology

how would you paraphrase the following paragraph1
How would you paraphrase the following paragraph?

ORIGINAL

“If you have ever had your astrological chart done, you may have been impressed with its seeming accuracy. Careful reading shows many such charts to be made up of mostly flattering traits. Naturally, when your personality is described in desirable terms, it is hard to deny that the description has the ‘ring of truth’" (Coon, 1995, p. 29).

Coon, B. (1995). Introduction to Psychology: Exploration and Application (7th ed.),New York: West.

appropriate and inappropriate paraphrasing2
ORIGINAL

“If you have ever had your astrological chart done, you may have been impressed with its seeming accuracy. Careful reading shows many such charts to be made up of mostly flattering traits. Naturally, when your personality is described in desirable terms, it is hard to deny that the description has the ‘ring of truth’" (Coon, 1995, p. 29).

INAPPROPRIATELY PARAPHRASED VERSION

According to Coon (1995), if you ever have had your astrological chart done, you were probably impressed by how accurate it seemed. A careful reading indicates many such charts to be made up of mainly flattering traits. Of course, it is hard to deny that the description has the ‘ring of truth’ when your personality is described in desirable terms.

Appropriate and inappropriate paraphrasing
appropriate and inappropriate paraphrasing3
ORIGINAL

“If you have ever had your astrological chart done, you may have been impressed with its seeming accuracy. Careful reading shows many such charts to be made up of mostly flattering traits. Naturally, when your personality is described in desirable terms, it is hard to deny that the description has the ‘ring of truth’" (Coon, 1995, p. 29).

APPROPRIATELY PARAPHRASED VERSION

   According to Coon (1995), individuals who have had their astrological chart profiled may have been swayed by their apparent precision. If you study these charts, however, you realize that they are primarily composed of complimentary attributes. Obviously, as Coon notes, when one is described with positive, laudable traits, it is difficult to argue against such a flattering portrait of oneself.

Appropriate and inappropriate paraphrasing
study instructions1
Study Instructions

Let's assume that you want to include the information from the Zenhausern paragraph in your paper but that you do not want to use a direct quote. Instead, you want to paraphrase the entire paragraph. How would you re‑write the above version of the paragraph so as to not be classified as a case of plagiarism? In the space below, please paraphrase the above paragraph to the best of your ability (use the back of the page if you need more space). Assume that a correct citation (e.g., a footnote, Zenhausern, 1978) will appear in your paper's reference section. Also, please write clearly and legibly.

text misappropriation by professors as function of paragraph readability
Text misappropriation by professors as function of paragraph readability

College Professors Psychologists

Difficult-to-read Difficult-to-read Easy-to-read

(n = 109) (n = 43) (n = 64) ____________________________________________________________________

String Length

5-word strings 30% 26% 03% 6-word strings 22% 19% 03%7-word strings 18% 16% 00%8-word strings 09% 09% 00%

_____________________________________________________________

*From: Roig, M. (2001). Plagiarism and paraphrasing criteria of college and university professors Ethics and Behavior(11) 3, 307-323.

text misappropriation as function of paragraph readability
Text misappropriation as function of paragraph readability

College Professors Psychologists Students Difficult-to-read Easy-to-read Difficult-to-read Easy-to-read

(n = 109) (n = 64) (n = 215) (n = 206) ___________________________________________________________________________

String Length

5-word strings 30% 03% 68% 19% 6-word strings 22% 03% 62% 16% 7-word strings 18% 00% 53% 10% 8-word strings 09% 00% 41% 09%

___________________________________________________________________Student data from: *Roig, M. (1999). When college students' attempts at paraphrasing become instances of

potential plagiarism. Psychological Reports, 84, 973-982.

plagiarism has not been fully operationalized and the available guidance is inconsistent

Plagiarism has not been fully operationalized and the available guidance is inconsistent.

general writing guides
General Writing Guides
  • “When paraphrasing, you restate an author’s ideas in your own words. A good paraphrase retains the organization, emphasis, and often many of the details of the original passage”

Kennedy, X. J., Kennedy, D. M., Holladay, S. A. (2002). The Bedford Guide for College Writers, 6th ed. Boston: Bedford/St. Martin’s Press.

general writing guides1
General Writing Guides
  • “Changing a word here and there and reversing the order of phrases is not sufficient, even though you give credit in a footnote” (Campbell & Ballou, 1990, p. 11).

In explaining proper paraphrasing strategies these authors further warn:

  • “Do not substitute synonyms here and there or rearrange sentence elements” (Campbell & Ballou, p. 39).

Campbell, W. G., & Ballou, S. V. (1990). Form and Style: Theses, Reports, Term Papers. (5th ed.). Boston: Houghton Mifflin.

general writing guides2
General Writing Guides
  • “You also plagiarize when you use words so close to those in your source, that if your work were placed next to the source, it would be obvious that you could not have written what you did without the source at your elbow.” (Booth, Colomb, & Williams, 1995; p. 167)

Booth, W. C., Colomb, G. G., Williams, J. M. (1995). The craft of research. Chicago:

The University of Chicago Press.

biology writing guide

Writing Guides in Biology

Biology Writing Guide
  • “Express your own thoughts in your own words…. Note, too, that simply changing a few words here and there, or changing the order of a few words in a sentence or paragraph, is still plagiarism. Plagiarism is one of the most serious crimes in academia.” (Pechenik, 2001; p.10).

Pechnick, J. A. (2001). A short guide to writing about biology, 4th Edition. New York: Addison Wesley Longman.

plagiarism and paraphrasing according to the professional writing guides
Plagiarism and paraphrasing according to the professional writing guides
  • Most of the student and professional writing guides provide coverage for plagiarism. However, few of the professional guides cover the more subtle forms of plagiarism (e.g., inappropriate paraphrasing).
the american medical association manual of style 9 th edition
The American Medical Association Manual of Style, 9th edition
  • Direct Plagiarism: Verbatim lifting of passages without enclosing the borrowed material in quotation marks and crediting the original author.
  • Mosaic: Borrowing 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 opinions with those of the original author, creating a “confused plagiarized mass”
the american medical association manual of style 9 th edition1
The American Medical Association Manual of Style, 9th edition
  • Paraphrase: Restating a phrase or passage, providing the same meaning but in a different form without attribution to the original author.
  • Insufficient acknowledgement: Noting the original source of only part of what is borrowed or failing to cite the source material in such a way that a reader will know what is original and what is borrowed.
the apa manual
The APA Manual
  • One guide that provides some coverage of ‘proper paraphrasing is the Publication Manual of the American Psychological Association (2001).
  • Unfortunately the coverage provided by the APA Manual is misleading …
the apa manual1
The APA Manual
  • From the APA Manual:
    • “Each time you paraphrase another author (i.e., summarize a passage or rearrange the order of a sentence and change some of the words), you will need to credit the source in the text.”
  • Please note that summarizing and paraphrasing are two distinct processes, though in both instances we must acknowledge the source of the material.
summarizing and paraphrasing
Summarizing and Paraphrasing
  • When we summarize, we condense, in our own words, a substantial amount of material into a short paragraph or perhaps even into a sentence.
  • When we paraphrase, we have to reproduce the meaning of the other author’s ideas using our words and sentence structure
us office of research integrity ori http ori dhhs gov policies plagiarism shtml
US Office of Research Integrity (ORI)http://ori.dhhs.gov/policies/plagiarism.shtml
  • “As a general working definition, ORI considers plagiarism to include both the theft or misappropriation of intellectual property and the substantial unattributed textual copying of another's work. It does not include authorship or credit disputes.”“The theft or misappropriation of intellectual property includes the unauthorized use of ideas or unique methods obtained by a privileged communication, such as a grant or manuscript review.”
us office of research integrity ori http ori dhhs gov policies plagiarism shtml1
US Office of Research Integrity (ORI)http://ori.dhhs.gov/policies/plagiarism.shtml
  • “Substantial unattributed textual copying of another's work means the unattributed verbatim or nearly verbatim copying of sentences and paragraphs which materially mislead the ordinary reader regarding the contributions of the author. ORI generally does not pursue the limited use of identical or nearly-identical phrases which describe a commonly-used methodology or previous research because ORI does not consider such use as substantially misleading to the reader or of great significance.”
ori s practices
ORI’s practices

ORI has not classified as research misconduct cases in which relatively large portions of literature reviews or methodology sections have been plagiarized from another source IF it is concluded that the text copied materially misleads the expert reader. The latter applies even if other entities (e.g., the university employing the offenders) has determined that plagiarism has taken place.*

*At the recent conference on plagiarism in the science disciplines (NYC), Alan Price indicated 2 such cases in which the institutions had found plagiarism but where ORI did not find misconduct.

perhaps ori s definition may stem from encountering situations such as the one that follows
Perhaps ORI’s definition may stem from encountering situations, such as the one that follows:
try paraphrasing this paragraph
Try paraphrasing this paragraph

“Mammalian histone lysine methyltransferase, suppressor of variegation 39H1 (SUV39H1), initiates silencing with selective methylation on Lys9 of histone H3, thus creating a high-affinity binding site for HP1. When an antibody to endogenous SUV39H1 was used for immunoprecipitation, MeCP2 was effectively coimmunoprecipitated; conversely, αHA antibodies to HA-tagged MeCP2 could immunoprecipitate SUV39H1 (Fig. 2G).” (Lunyak, et al., 2002 p. 1748)

Lunyak, V., et al., (2002). Corepressor-dependent silencing of chromosomal regions encoding neuronal genes. Science, 298, 1747-1756.

even the most terse text can be paraphrased
ORIGINAL VERSION

“Mammalian histone lysine methyltransferase, suppressor of variegation 39H1 (SUV39H1), initiates silencing with selective methylation on Lys9 of histone H3, thus creating a high-affinity binding site for HP1. When an antibody to endogenous SUV39H1 was used for immunoprecipitation, MeCP2 was effectively coimmunoprecipitated; conversely, αHA antibodies to HA-tagged MeCP2 could immunoprecipitate SUV39H1 (Fig. 2G).” (Lunyak, et al., 2002, p. 1748)

PARAPHRASED VERSION

According to Lunyak, et al. (2002), a high affinity binding site for HP1 can be produced by silencing Lys9 of histone H3 by methylation with mammalian histone lysing methyltransferase, a suppressor of variegation 39H1 (SUV39H1). MeCP2 can be immunoprecipitated with antibodies prepared against endogenous SUV39H1; on the other hand, immunoprecipitation of SUB39H1 resulted from aHA antibodies to HA-tagged MeCP2.

Even the most terse text can be paraphrased
but it is not easy
But, it is not easy!!
  • There are some instances in which the extent to which text can be modified is very limited ...
  • Particularly in situations where the author has less than a full command of the language, proper paraphrasing can be extremely difficult.
other guidance on plagiarism
Other guidance on plagiarism
  • According to Scheetz (2002), a very small percentage of journals’ instructions to authors provide coverage of research misconduct, duplicate publishing, and related issues.
  • In one recent study, 66% of professional societies’ ethics codes surveyed were found to provide some coverage of plagiarism-related matters (e.g., crediting others’ work), however, coverage varied widely and some important areas (e.g., self-plagiarism) were not mentioned.
slide58

Self-Plagiarism:

Can one steal from one self?

plagiarism vs self plagiarism
Plagiarism vs. self-plagiarism
  • Plagiarism refers to the misappropriation of others’ ideas, words, images, design properties, data, musical notes, etc.
  • Self-plagiarism refers to authors’ re-use of their earlier work and passing it of as new or original material .
forms of student self plagiarism
Forms of Student Self-plagiarism
  • Double dipping – Submitting a paper or other assignment which had previously earned credit from another course.
  • Text recycling – Reusing in a new assignment large portions of a previously submitted paper/s or other written assignment (computer code, speech, etc.) without acknowledging their former use.
student self plagiarism
Student Self-plagiarism
  • Little, if any, data exist on this student malpractice. However, it is believed that it is a widespread practice.
  • Personal experience suggests that students don’t see this as a form of academic dishonesty.
forms of professional self plagiarism
Forms of Professional Self-plagiarism
  • Duplicate publication/presentation – Submitting a paper to a journal or conference which had been previously written for journal or conference under a slightly different title.
  • Redundant publication occurs when some portion of previously published data is used again in a new publication with no indication that the data had been published earlier.
forms of professional self plagiarism1
Forms of Professional Self-plagiarism
  • Fragmented or piecemeal publication – occurs when a complex study is broken down into two or more components and each component is analyzed and published as a separate paper.
  • Augmented publication – occurs when when a simpler study is made more complex by the addition of more observations or experimental conditions.
forms of professional self plagiarism2
Forms of Professional Self-plagiarism
  • Salami Slicing – Using data from a large, complex study and segmenting it to produce two or more papers.
  • Text recycling – Reusing portions of previously published text in a new publication without reference to the original.
    • The essence of self-plagiarism in all of the above instances is that the reader is not made aware of the duplication.
empirical evidence for self plagiarism
Empirical evidence for self-plagiarism
  • Schein (2001) found that 14% of 660 articles represented “a clear form of redundant publication”.

Schein, M. (2001) Redundant publications:from self-plagiarism to “Salami-Slicing”. NewSurgery, 1, 139-140.

empirical evidence for self plagiarism1
Empirical evidence for self-plagiarism
  • More recently, von Elm, et al. (2004), reported that of 1,234 articles reviewed in the area of anesthesia and analgesia, 5% were duplicates that gave no indication as to the original publication.

von Elm, E., Poglia, G., Walder, B. & Tramèr, M. R. (2004) Journal of the.

American Medical Association. 291, 974–980.

many do not believe self plagiarism is unethical
Many do not believe self-plagiarism is unethical
  • In a study of health educators, Price, et al. (2001) reported that 64% of their sample stated that self-plagiarism is an acceptable behavior

Price, J. H., Dake, J. A., Islam, R. (2001). Selected ethical issues in research and publication: Perceptions of health education faculty. Health Education and Behavior, 28, 51-64.

why self plagiarism is problematic
Why self-plagiarism is problematic
  • It misleads the reader into thinking that the material is new.
  • More importantly, self-plagiarism overestimates or underestimates a statistical effect thereby biasing our state of knowledge in a given area.
traditional scholarly conventions
Traditional scholarly conventions
  • Verbatim text taken from another source must be enclosed in quotation marks and its source must be clearly identified.
  • When paraphrasing others’ text, such text must be substantially modified and its source must be clearly indicated.
  • Technically, the same rules apply when verbatim or paraphrased text was re-used by the same author in a new publication or conference presentation.
text reuse in a sample of 9 psychology journal articles
Text reuse in a sample of 9 psychology journal articles

Study Method

  • Obtained electronic versions of all articles (target articles) published in one issue of a psychology journal.
  • For each target article I obtained at least 3 of the articles from the same author/authors that were cited as references (source).
  • I compared each of the references to the target article to determine if any text had been re-used from any of the earlier published sources.
text reuse in a sample of 9 psychology journal articles1
Text reuse in a sample of 9 psychology journal articles

___________________________________________________

Target Article Id A* B C D E F G H I

___________________________________________________

String length Number of word-strings detected

_________________________________

6 9 8 1 0 6 1 2 8 2

7 6 1 0 0 0 1 3 6 1

8 6 1 0 0 3 1 1 3 1

9 4 1 1 0 0 0 0 0 0

10 and longer 13 0 0 0 0 1 2 3 0

_____________________________________________________

*30 sentences of a total of 79 contained text strings derived from other same-authored publications.

From Roig (2005). Re-using text from one’s own previously published papers:

An exploratory study of potential self-plagiarism. Psychological Reports,

97, 43-49.

results
Results
  • Most of the reused text found was derived from methodology sections.
  • Other comparisons between pairs of references revealed at least 4 instances of identical sets of 40 to 60 word strings, again, mainly in Methods sections.
is it self plagiarism is it unethical
Is it self-plagiarism?; is it unethical?
  • Given standard scholarly conventions (i.e., quotations, footnotes) are there any circumstances where even small amounts of text (e.g., one full sentence) can be re-used without any indication of its origin?
  • Text from these sections is sometimes difficult to paraphrase. For example:

Mammalian histone lysine methyltransferase, suppressor of variegation 39H1 (SUV39H1), initiates silencing with

selective methylation on Lys9 of histone H3 …

it is best to avoid re using one s own text
It is best to avoid re-using one’s own text
  • On the other hand, at least one journal cautions against the use of previously published methods sections as templates for writing these sections in new publications (Academic Emergency Medicine)
  • http://www.saem.org/inform/aempub.htm
guidelines from selected journals
Guidelines from selected journals
  • “At the time of submission, authors must describe in a cover letter any data, figures, or text in the manuscript that have been used in other papers” (Conservation Biology) http://www.conbio.org/SCB/Publications/ConsBio/Instructions/
  • “A paper submitted to the Indian Pediatrics should not overlap by more than 10% with previously published work, or work submitted elsewhere which then would be labeled as duplicate publication”. http://www.indianpediatrics.net/author1.htm
guidelines from selected journals1
Guidelines from selected journals
  • “The authors must describe in a cover letter any data, illustrations, or text in the manuscript that have been used in other papers that are published, in press, submitted, or soon to be submitted elsewhere” (Evolution and Development), http://www.blackwellpublishing.com/submit.asp?ref=1520-541X
  • “If part of a contribution has appeared or will appear elsewhere, the author must specify the details in the covering letter accompanying the Nature submission” (Nature). http://www.nature.com/nature/authors/policy/index.html
other situations where text re use occurs

OTHER SITUATIONS WHERE TEXT RE-USE OCCURS

What are the parameters of text reuse? What are reader’s expectations?

from article to grant proposal
From article to grant proposal?
  • From article to grant proposal? Vice versa?
  • From journal article to conference presentation? Vice versa?
  • From one book to another?
  • Where is the guidance with respect to these questions? Who decides whether these activities are appropriate or not?
am i self plagiarizing this talk
Am I Self-plagiarizing This Talk?
  • It depends on whether you assume that this presentation was exclusively prepared for you. Therefore, please note that:
  • Many of the ideas and some of the slides from this presentation have been shown at other venues (e.g., conferences)
slide83

The need for instruction

Because it is clear that many students and some professionals are not aware of the rules of proper scholarship, effective instruction in this area needs to become a top priority.

the concept of ethical writing
The Concept of Ethical Writing

The notion of ethical writing assumes that there is an implicit contract between the reader and the author. This code can be summarized according to the following principles:

the concept of ethical writing1
The Concept of Ethical Writing

Unless it is otherwise indicated in our work:

  • The material presented is new.
  • The work presented is exclusively our own.
  • The ideas, theories, data, etc., contained in the paper are accurately presented to the best of our ability.
in closing
In Closing …
  • “Ethical writing is clear, accurate, fair, and honest”.

If properly internalized and practiced, I believe that ethical writing generalizes to other areas of personal and professional conduct

  • “Ethical writing is a reflection of ethical practice”