The problems of plagiarism software

This is a problem that we as librarians ought to be aware of and thanks to Oliver Obst for alerting us to it. Plagiarism is a real problem for the publishers of scientific and medical research. As Oliver says it is “ubiquitous and dangerous”, but it can be detected automatically by software such as eTBLAST and Déja vu (these are available to the public) and there are a number of commercial ones on the market.

Journal editors are rightly keen to keep the good reputation of their journals and root out plagiarism. But – take the case of the researcher who submitted a paper which was rejected on grounds of plagiarism because the software had picked up an abstract from his own paper presenting the preliminary findings of his research at a conference.

It was a librarian who found out what had gone wrong by running the software used by the journal and examining the results carefully. Improperly indexed the huge database searched by the software picked up the conference abstract but did not show that it was by the researcher himself; and worse still, the so-called plagiarism was not further checked by the editorial team before his manuscript was rejected.

Oliver doesn’t say whether this story ended happily for the researcher; and a wake up call  for the journal’s editors. Let us hope it did – in both cases.

Full article in: Oliver Obst. 2012.Researchers under general suspicion: submissions automatically rejected by plagiarism software. Journal of the European Association for Health Information and Libraries. 8(4):21-22.

Jean Shaw, Phi


About jgreigshaw

I work with Partnerships in Health Information which promotes partnership between libraries in Africa and the UK with an emphasis in African leadership. I have visited Kenya, Mali, Uganda and Zambia though Phi has contacts in many more African countries.
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One Response to The problems of plagiarism software

  1. Onen Walter Yagos says:

    This is astonishing to read. We sit and relax thinking every thing is perfect – this is a call for software developers and also editors to revisit any system developed or use in detecting plagiarism.

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