Checking for plagiarism

Considerations when checking for plagiarism

As an editor, when is it worth your while to check for plagiarism and when is intuitive screening enough? Online plagiarism tools can be extremely useful, but does every manuscript need to be checked? Costs are to be weighed in the equation as well as actual likelihood of intentional falsification versus the time necessary to do a thorough check. Here is a list of items to take into account when considering checking a manuscript for plagiarism.



Plagiarism vs. similarities:

Plagiarism checkers will find possibilities for plagiarism in every document. Be aware that it might be a considerable amount of work to investigate the sections of the manuscript against the various sources of similarity outlined in the report. There are also instances where what might be considered acceptable in academic circles could register as suspect with a plagiarism tool. For example, an author’s reference to his or her own earlier work, describing an identical scientific method, could show as suspect in a plagiarism checker, whereas this type of similarity could be seen as acceptable within the author’s scientific community.



Online similarity checkers are usually paid per manuscript. Use your resources wisely. Recognize trends at the get-go and identify the suspect manuscripts that warrant inspection. It can be expensive to run a plagiarism check, and in some cases, unnecessary.



Similarities amongst sources will be found by plagiarism tools, but these tools do not check for falsified data or tampered images. For this, one needs expert reviewers to identify and be on the lookout for falsified data and exaggerated claims. if there is a doubt about the authenticity of a paper, the reviewers will often find it.


Reporting misconduct:

If obvious scientific misconduct is discovered there are formal methods of reporting unethical behaviour through the COPE (Committee on Publication Ethics) system. Realize that editors may be asked to provide extensive documentation about the perceived misconduct which can be extremely time consuming.



Costs are to be weighed in the equation as well as actual likelihood of intentional falsification, and the time necessary to do a thorough check.

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