Plagiarism is the copying of ideas, text, data and other creative work (e.g. tables, figures and graphs) and presenting it as original research without proper citation. Separate from the issue of plagiarism is the need for authors to obtain permission to reuse previously published work (even if properly cited) from the holder of the copyright (which is typically not the author).
There are variety of software available to detect instances of overlapping and similar text in manuscripts. Plagiarism software’s checks content against a database of periodicals, the Internet, and a comprehensive article database. It generates a similarity report, highlighting the percentage overlap between the uploaded article and the published material. After submission, any instance of content overlap is further scrutinized for suspected plagiarism according to the publisher’s Editorial Policies. WCEST allows an overall similarity of 20% for a manuscript to be considered for publication. The similarity percentage is further checked keeping the following important points in view:
Types of Plagiarism
We all know that scholarly manuscripts are written after thorough review of previously published articles. It is therefore not easy to draw a clear boundary between legitimate representation and plagiarism. However, the following important features can assist in identifying different kinds of plagiarized content. These are:
- Reproduction of others words, sentences, ideas or findings as one’s own without proper acknowledgement.
- Text recycling, also known as self-plagiarism. It is an author’s use of a previous publication in another paper without proper citation and acknowledgement of the original source.
- Paraphrasing poorly: Copying complete paragraphs and modifying a few words without changing the structure of original sentences or changing the sentence structure but not the words.
- Verbatim copying of text without putting quotation marks and not acknowledging the work of the original author.
- Properly citing a work but poorly paraphrasing the original text is considered as unintentional plagiarism. Similarly, manuscripts with language somewhere between paraphrasing and quoting are not acceptable. Authors should either paraphrase properly or quote and in both cases, cite the original source.
- Higher similarity in the abstract, introduction, materials and methods, and discussion and conclusion sections indicates that the manuscript may contain plagiarized text. Authors can easily explain these parts of the manuscript in many ways. However, technical terms and sometimes standard procedures cannot be rephrased; therefore Editors must review these sections carefully before making a decision.
It is essential that editors and reviewers be told by the authors when any portion of a paper is based heavily on previous work, even if this work has been written by one or more of the authors of the paper. It is the responsibility of the author not only to cite the previous work, including their own, but to provide an indication of the extent to which a paper depends on this work.
While following these broad principles, authors should recognize the following guidelines:
1) Plagiarism covers the use of ideas that have been presented in prior work, regardless of whether the ideas are expressed using the same words, tables or graphics.
2) Word-for-word copying of the work by others must be clearly identified. Short segments (a few words to one or two sentences) must be put in quotes or italicized; longer segments (e.g. a paragraph) should be indented or italicized. In both cases, the quoted work has to be followed by a citation, which may be a URL. This does not apply to casual phrases that do not convey original content (e.g. “This paper makes the following contributions”). Extensive copying of the work of others, even if clearly indicated, is generally not allowed.
3) More extensive word-for-word copying of one’s own work is permitted (with permission from the holder of any copyright), but this must be clearly indicated in the article. This does not apply to previous documents such as working papers and theses which were written as part of the research. If an entire section is copied from another source (coauthored by at least one author of the submitted paper), it should contain words to the effect “This section is taken from section x.x of Roberts and Smith (1994)” (where Roberts and/or Smith are coauthors of the submitted paper). If the results of a section are based in large part on material presented in another paper (without significant copying), the section should contain words to the effect “This section is based on section x.x of Roberts and Smith (1994).” Alternatively, a paper might include an opening footnote with a statement such as: An earlier version of this paper was presented at the […] conference on (date). [reference to the original paper in the list of references]. The sections on […] and […] originally appeared in the conference paper. This paper adds results [ideas, analysis, improvements…] in sections […].
4) Proper attribution of an idea is required even if a journal operates with double-blind review. Authors should always cite related work even if that work is their own, even if the journal has double blind review. If an author is concerned that such citation would reveal their identity, thereby circumventing the double blind process, they should nevertheless include a “blinded” citation in the manuscript, i.e., a citation that does not include their name, and explain to the journal’s editor how, if the paper is accepted for publication, that citation will be changed for the final version.
5) The first paper in which a creative contribution occurs (text, ideas, analysis) gets the credit for the contribution, even if it has not yet been accepted for publication. Subsequent papers (by the same or different authors), are expected to cite the first paper (even if it is under review).
If the first paper is under review:
- It should still be cited in any subsequent use.
- If the material in the first paper is used as the basis for new research, it should be cited, but there is no need to inform the journal handling the original submission.
If the first paper is rejected:
- Authors of the first paper can transfer credit for the contribution to a later paper (even if the first paper is resubmitted elsewhere). The resubmitted first paper should then be modified to reference the later paper that now is credited with the contribution.If the original contribution from the first paper is essentially presented again as the main contribution (as opposed to being used as the basis for new research), as might happen in a book chapter or conference proceedings paper, then special care must be taken:
- If the original paper is still under review, the author must notify the editor of the journal reviewing the original submission and follow the policies of that journal. Failure to do so may be construed as parallel publication of a result.
6) The use and reuse of empirical data follows the same principles as other types of research, although some issues are unique to the nature of data as opposed to ideas expressed in text and mathematics. Some general guidelines regarding plagiarism in the reporting of empirical research are:
a) Reuse of empirical data to support new analysis must clearly identify the original source of the data and the degree to which the data is being reused or analyzed in a new and innovative way.
b) Plagiarism in empirical research includes: i) copying or using any data without citation (and permission), ii) duplicating analysis (on the same data as an earlier paper) without citation which is essentially the same as the earlier paper, iii) copying, or direct reproduction, of charts and graphs that represent data from a previous publication in effectively the same way as an earlier paper, without citation.
7) Mathematics: While plagiarism of mathematical ideas is not allowed (credit must be given just as for other contributions), the re-use of notation for consistency is encouraged, including the re-use of variable definitions. If a mathematical idea is copied without attribution, but expressed with different notation, this is still plagiarism. This does not apply to mathematical models and algorithms that have become common knowledge within the research community. A paper should always indicate whether a mathematical model, algorithm or other result is from the literature, or is an original contribution of the paper. When in doubt, it is always best practice to cite prior contributions.
The overarching goal of this policy is transparency, so that the editorial staff understands what is new and original, and the degree to which the paper is drawing on the work of others or the authors. If you are not sure how to properly credit work that is presented elsewhere (such as a parallel publication which is also under review or a conference proceeding), the best strategy is to describe the situation in a cover letter to the editor.
Penalties for Plagiarism
When plagiarism has been found to have occurred, WCEST will take the actions listed below as determined by the type of plagiarism. Unless determined otherwise during the investigation, all authors are deemed to be individually and collectively responsible for the content of a plagiarizing paper.
- WCEST will inform the Department Chair, Dean, or supervisor of the authors of the finding of plagiarism.
- The authors will be asked to write a formal letter of apology to the authors of the plagiarized paper, including an admission of plagiarism.
- If the paper has appeared in press, WCEST will post a Notice of Plagiarism based on the investigation and will remove access to the full text. The paper itself will be kept in the database for future research or legal purposes.
- If the paper is under submission, the paper can be automatically rejected by the Editor-in-Chief or the Program Chair without further revisions and without any further plagiarism investigation coordinated by the WCEST Director. In addition, a letter of warning will be sent by the Editor-in-Chief or the Program Chair to the authors with a copy of the WCEST Policy and Procedures on Plagiarism.