A concern about plagiarism
1 Department of Biomedical Imaging, Faculty of
Medicine, University of Malaya, Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia
2 Centre of Biomedical Engineering, University of Surrey, Guildford, Surrey, United Kingdom
The Biomedical Imaging and Intervention Journal (biij),
like all other scientific journals, is concerned with the serious issue of
plagiarism. The Publications Committee of the International Organization of
Medical Physics (IOMP) has prepared an editorial on plagiarism, which is
reproduced here with some modifications, with permission from the IOMP. In
addition, this editorial is also consistent with the Policy on Plagiarism of
World Association of Medical Editors (WAME) .
Plagiarism � from the Latin �plagiare,� meaning �to
kidnap� � is defined as �the appropriation or imitation of the language, ideas
and thoughts of another author and representation of them as one�s original
work� . Plagiarism is a serious breach of research ethics that, if committed
intentionally, is considered research misconduct. Plagiarism may result in
serious sanctions including public disclosure, loss of research funding, loss
of professional stature, and termination of employment.
Plagiarism undermines the authenticity of research
manuscripts and the journals in which they are published. It also compromises
the integrity of the scientific process and public regard for science.
Plagiarism violates the literary rights of individuals whose work has been
plagiarised and the property rights of copyright holders. Violation of literary
or property rights may result in legal action against the individual(s)
committing plagiarism. Although plagiarism has existed since the beginning of
science, it seems to be increasing because the World Wide Web facilitates
finding and copying the work of others.
It is possible not only to plagiarise the work of others,
but also one�s own work through reuse of identical or nearly identical portions
of manuscripts without acknowledgment or citation. Simultaneous or subsequent
submission of similar manuscripts with only minor differences and without
citation between the manuscripts is, unfortunately, a rather common practice
among authors hoping to acquire multiple publications from a research project.
Scientific journals discourage this practice and usually will not permit it if
exposed before publication. Occasionally, the same � or a very similar �
article may be published in two journals because the journals reach different
audiences and the article is of interest to both. This practice must be
approved by the editors of both journals and the duplication must be
acknowledged in each article.
When there is a possibility of plagiarism � often through
an allegation of plagiarism by the original author, a reviewer or an interested
third party � the journal�s editor should act quickly. The editor should
examine the original material and the publication alleged to have performed
plagiarism. If the editor concludes that no plagiarism has occurred, the
accuser should be notified, and no further action is necessary.
If the evidence suggests that plagiarism may have
occurred, the editor should contact the accused author(s), the author(s) whose
work may have been plagiarised, and the copyright holder of the original
material if different from the author(s). The correspondence should include the
alleged plagiarising language and a copy of the original and suspected work. If
all parties agree that plagiarism � whether intentional or unintentional � has
occurred, a written letter of apology should be sent promptly by the offending
author(s) to the editor and to the author(s) and copyright holder of the
plagiarised work. If the offending work has been published, a notice of
plagiarism, citing both the plagiarised and the offending articles and
containing the exact text that has been plagiarised, should be published in the
next available issue of the journal in which the offending article was
published. The plagiarising author(s) must agree that all dissemination of the
offending article will be accompanied by the notice of plagiarism.
If the accused author(s) denies that plagiarism has
occurred, the editor must explore the accusation further, preferably through a
mechanism already established by the journal to investigate allegations of
scientific misconduct. All parties to the allegation should be encouraged to
submit corroborating evidence, and the accused author(s) should be granted an
opportunity � at no expense to the journal � to testify in person in defence
against the allegation. The investigation should be concluded within a
reasonable period of time (e.g., 3 months).
If the mechanism to investigate the allegation of
plagiarism concludes in support of the allegation, then the process for the
case in which plagiarism is admitted should be instituted. Further, the editor
must decide whether the plagiarism should be reported to the guilty parties�
supervisor, employer, and/or professional organisation.
If the mechanism rules against the accusation of
plagiarism, a letter stating this ruling should be provided to the accuser, the
author(s) accused of plagiarism, the author(s) of the original work, and the
copyright holder if different from the author(s). In either case, these actions
should constitute closure of the allegation of plagiarism.
Self-policing is a major strength of the scientific community
and suspected plagiarism should always be reported, even if the suspected
plagiariser is a colleague or superior. An allegation of plagiarism is a
serious accusation and should never be taken lightly. Further, laboratory
directors, senior authors, and other individuals in leadership positions should
educate junior members of a research team about responsible conduct in
preparing scientific manuscripts for publication.
biij fully supports the initiative in
combating plagiarism and will try to closely adhere to the above detailed
mechanism in handling reported cases of plagiarism. Although there are no such
reports or accusations hitherto, the Editorial Board has taken the liberty of
randomly checking the integrity of submitted papers for evidence of plagiarism.
The Board has been using Google Scholar (http://google.com/scholar/) as a tool
in the evaluation process, and is currently trying the services of the
CrossCheck plagiarism detection service by CrossRef (http://crossref.org/).
biij retains the right to alter the above
mechanism in handling plagiarism cases should the currently worrying advent of
plagiarism in scientific literature decrease in the future.
WAME Publication Ethics Policies for Medical Journals [Online]. Available at http://www.wame.org/resources/ethics-resources/publication-ethics-policies-for-medical-journals.
Webster�s Unabridged Dictionary. New York: Random House Reference, 2005.
|Received 29 April 2008; accepted 2 May 2008
Correspondence: Department of Biomedical Imaging, Faculty of Medicine, University of Malaya, 50603 Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. Tel.: +603-79492069; Fax: +603-79581973; E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org (Kwan-Hoong Ng).
Please cite as: Ng KH, Abdullah BJJ, Kadri NA,
A concern about plagiarism, Biomed Imaging Interv J 2008; 4(2):e22