Definition of plagiarism:
Plagiarism is intellectual theft and a serious crime. The word is taken from the Latin word plagiare meaning to kidnap. The encyclopedia Britannica describes plagiarism as “the act of taking the writings of another person and passing them off as one's own. The fraudulence is closely related to forgery and piracy — practices generally in violation of copyright laws”.1
In brief, plagiarism is an act of fraud. Pechenik states, "Plagiarism has rightly been stated as one of the most serious crimes of academia".2 The World Association of Medical Editors (WAME) defines plagiarism as3 "… the use of others' published and unpublished ideas or words (or other intellectual property) without attribution or permission, and presenting them as new and original rather than derived from an existing source"
What are the Types of Plagiarism?4
Word to Word: This is Copy and Paste from a published article with no referencing. It can also be lifting an entire paragraph or a graph. This is usually done in the introduction or discussion sections of a manuscript because here you either introduce your research subject from other sources or discuss it by comparison with other published material.
Mosaic: This is copying and pasting in a patchy manner. Ideas and opinions are borrowed from another source and a few words are added. No credit is given to the original author. At times mixing the two ideas can be confusing.
Paraphrasing: Taking information from another source for the introduction and re-writing in ones own words, is paraphrasing. This needs to be referenced and just changing the words cannot make it the property of the borrower. If it is not referenced it, will amount to plagiarism.
Ideas and Speech: Changing a few words here and there, or changing the order of a few words in a sentence or paragraph, is still plagiarism of ideas
Self-Plagiarism: In some situations text recycling is an acceptable practice. However in all ethical practice, authors should avoid reusing even their own previously published text. A debated exception of such usage is writing of the methodology sections of multiple manuscripts coming from a single data set. It should be done with standard scholarly conventions by using quotations and proper paraphrasing and citing the source.
Cyber-Plagiarism: Copying or downloading in part, or in their entirety, articles or research papers found on the internet or copying ideas in a similar manner and not giving proper attribution is unethical and falls in the range of cyber plagiarism.
Image Manipulation: Image manipulation is the act of altering or enhancing the quality of an image in order to present the research findings as better or important than they actually are. Images can be tampered to support findings, promote a specific technique over another, strengthen the correctness of poorly visualized findings, remove the defects of an image, and to misrepresent an image from what it really is.
Role of Institutes/Organizations:
All institutions and organizations are responsible to apprise their students, teachers, researchers and staff of the definition, implications and resulting punishments in case of plagiarism. All institutions and organizations should therefore ensure highest ethical standards while granting Ethical clearance to research proposals submitted to them considering a collective responsibility for the contents of manuscripts published by Journals / Publishers etc.
Biomedica – Plagiarism Policy:
Plagiarism Policy and Research Misconduct Policy of Biomedica aims to create awareness, define many forms of exhibition of Plagiarism, present standard operating procedures for thorough investigation, provide a platform for punitive action relative to the magnitude of the offence including false or spurious complaints. This policy is applicable to all students, teachers, researchers and staff of all institutions and organizations in Pakistan and abroad who submit their manuscript in writing for publishing with Biomedica.
B: SOPS FOR DEALING WITH CASES OF PLAGIARSM
- Biomedica Complaint Cell is open for all readers and authors and all complaints are dealt in a purely professional manner.
- At Biomedica, when a complaint to Editor / Ombudsman is received (electronically or by mail) with supporting documents, the Editor / Ombudsman shall check if the complainant is anonymous or has a genuine identity.
- In a case if overwhelming evidence of plagiarism is submitted, even anonymous complaints will be dealt as per Plagiarism Policy with approval of the competent authority.
- Subsequently the Editorial Board internally assesses the authenticity of evidence in support of allegation.
- After thorough review and collection of additional relevant facts, the case shall be forwarded to UHS Plagiarism Standing Committee that further investigates the issue in liaison with the Editorial Board, complainant, accused and/ or any other person deemed necessary for completion of investigation.
- The members of the Plagiarism Standing Committee shall sign a confidentiality statement that during the investigation they will, under no circumstances, disclose any individual author's name, paper titles, referees, or any other personal or specific information concerning the plagiarism complaint under investigation, nor shall they reveal the names of the complainant, if requested to be kept confidential.
- The Plagiarism Standing Committee shall give its final recommendations in line with UHS / Biomedica Policy on Research Misconduct and submit it to the Vice Chancellor for final decision regarding punitive action.
- After approval of its final decision from Vice Chancellor, the Editor shall, within two weeks after final decision, communicate it to author(s) in writing as well as to the competent authority of organization from which author(s) belong. The latter is done only in cases where author(s) is found to be guilty and it is recommended that a disciplinary action against the offender may be taken by the respective Institute and/or Organization as per its policy and the institute shall be direted to share the final report with Editor Biomedica in due course of time.
- In addition, the decision of committee shall be referred by Editor to the Director QEC of UHS who shall forward the decision to HEC for further necessary action.
- In case the plagiarism complaint is against Head of any Institution, the Editor shall forward the decision to Director QEC of UHS for onwards submission to HEC directly which shall take action as per its policy on plagiarism.
- In case of no response/acknowledgment from the organization within 4 weeks of receipt of decision (Item:B-8), first and second reminders for update on the case shall be sent during the fifth week and seventh week of receipt of decision, after which the matter shall be publically displayed on Biomedica website with the name of the Author(s) as well as the Institution ; Responsibility of Ethical clearance at the time of submission of manuscript remains with the Institution / organization where the work has been (claimed to be) carried out.
- In addition the Editor shall retract the plagiarized manuscript from all print and electronic sources of Biomedica as per Biomedica Retraction Policy and any personnel found to take credit for the retracted manucript on the basis of the older published version before retraction, shall be liable to a penalty as per rules mentioned in Biomedica Policy on Research Misconduct.
- After retraction, the case shall be officially closed.
- If the author(s) challenges/appeals against the decision of the University as per Biomedica Policy on Research Misconduct and the matter still remains unresolved, the case may be referred to HEC Plagiarism Committee whose decision remains final.
- As with all other complaints portal, Biomedica believes that this Plagiarism tool may not be misused by anybody for victimization of authors / scientists and therefore every effort is made to keep decision explicitly merited and transparent.
- The only requirement of the Plagiarism policy of Bioemdica is that all processing be done in an expeditious and transparent manner.
- Further details can be accessed at “Handling of cases with suspected Plagiraism”.
- (Online) (Cited 2013, September 11). Available from URL: http://www.britannica.com/EBchecked/topic/462640/plagiarism.
- Pechnick JA. A short guide to writing about biology, 4th Edition. New York: Addison Wesley Longman 2001.
- World Association of Medical Editors. Publication ethics policies for medical journals. (Online) (Cited 2019 December). Available from URL: http://wwwwameorg/resources/publication-ethics-policies-for-medical-journals
- Parrish D, Noonan B. Image manipulation as research misconduct. Sci Eng Ethics 2009; 15: 161-7.
Other reading material:
- Little Book of Plagiarism. A publication of Leeds, Metropolitan University. 6th edition, September 2017.
- HEC Plagiarism Policy: file:///D:/UHS%20Committee/Biomedica/Plagiarism%20Policy.pdf
- Fatema Jawad. Plagiarism and integrity in research. J Pak Med Assoc, 2013; 63(11):1-3.