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Report of a case of cyberplagiarism--and reflections on detecting and preventing academic misconduct using the Internet.

Eysenbach G - J. Med. Internet Res. (2000 Jan-Mar)

Bottom Line: In detecting and demonstrating this incident, a tool at www.plagiarism.org, has proven to be particularly useful.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.

View Article: PubMed Central - HTML - PubMed

Affiliation: University of Heidelberg, Dept. of Clinical Social Medicine, Unit for Cybermedicine, Heidelberg, 69115, Germany. ey@yi.com

ABSTRACT

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 www.plagiarism.org, 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.

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Fig. 3a+b. The words which are underlined and highlighted red in the plagiarism.org report (a) were lifted from the website medpics.org (b)
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figure3a: Fig. 3a+b. The words which are underlined and highlighted red in the plagiarism.org report (a) were lifted from the website medpics.org (b)

Mentions: To test the power of the system I submitted the questionable manuscript published in JRCSEd (see case report above) to the system. The plagiarism report was returned within 24 hours. The system not only flagged the paper as "medium original," but also highlighted 36% of the document as originating from different websites, most notably from the med-PICS and the Dublin Core metadata websites (see Figure 2,Figure 3, and Figure 4).


Report of a case of cyberplagiarism--and reflections on detecting and preventing academic misconduct using the Internet.

Eysenbach G - J. Med. Internet Res. (2000 Jan-Mar)

Fig. 3a+b. The words which are underlined and highlighted red in the plagiarism.org report (a) were lifted from the website medpics.org (b)
© Copyright Policy
Related In: Results  -  Collection

Show All Figures
getmorefigures.php?uid=PMC1761846&req=5

figure3a: Fig. 3a+b. The words which are underlined and highlighted red in the plagiarism.org report (a) were lifted from the website medpics.org (b)
Mentions: To test the power of the system I submitted the questionable manuscript published in JRCSEd (see case report above) to the system. The plagiarism report was returned within 24 hours. The system not only flagged the paper as "medium original," but also highlighted 36% of the document as originating from different websites, most notably from the med-PICS and the Dublin Core metadata websites (see Figure 2,Figure 3, and Figure 4).

Bottom Line: In detecting and demonstrating this incident, a tool at www.plagiarism.org, has proven to be particularly useful.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.

View Article: PubMed Central - HTML - PubMed

Affiliation: University of Heidelberg, Dept. of Clinical Social Medicine, Unit for Cybermedicine, Heidelberg, 69115, Germany. ey@yi.com

ABSTRACT

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 www.plagiarism.org, 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.

Show MeSH