The problem of plagiarism

Topics: Plagiarism, Scientific misconduct, Federal government of the United States Pages: 5 (3854 words) Published: September 5, 2014
Urologic Oncology: Seminars and Original Investigations 29 (2011) 90 –94

Seminar article

The problem of plagiarism
Melissa S. Anderson, Ph.D.a,*, Nicholas H. Steneck, Ph.D.b


Department of Organizational Leadership, Policy, and Development, University of Minnesota, Minneapolis, MN 55455, USA Research Ethics and Integrity Program, Michigan Institute for Clinical and Health Research, University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, MI 48109, USA

Plagiarism is a form of research misconduct and a serious violation of the norms of science. It is the misrepresentation of another’s ideas or words as one’s own, without proper acknowledgement of the original source. Certain aspects of plagiarism make it less straightforward than this definition suggests. Over the past 30 years, the U.S. Federal Government has developed and refined its policies on misconduct, and Federal agencies, as well as research institutions, have established approaches to responding to allegations and instances of plagiarism. At present, efforts to avert plagiarism focus on plagiarism-detection software and instructional strategies. © 2011 Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

Keywords: Plagiarism; Research misconduct; Scientific misconduct; Self-plagiarism; Federal definition of plagiarism

Researchers’ careers are built on their ideas and their
contributions to the research record. It should be no surprise, then, that plagiarism is viewed by the research community as a serious violation of the norms of research. It constitutes tampering with the system by which researchers’ work is recognized and rewarded, and it is a personal affront and act of disrespect to the individual who wrote the original words or expressed the original idea. Plagiarism is the presentation of another person’s words,

work, or ideas as one’s own. It has two components: (1) the taking of the words, work, or ideas from a source, and (2)
the lack of acknowledgement of the source in the use of the
words, work, or ideas. The first of these components often
leads commentators (even some in this issue) to claim that
plagiarism is stealing, but it is not. The act of reading or listening to a lecture is essentially a matter of taking words and ideas from another author into one’s own mind, which
certainly does not qualify as stealing. Plagiarism rests in the subsequent component: representing those words or ideas as
one’s own, usually by failing to acknowledge the source.
This misrepresentation is fraudulent (in the general though
not necessarily legal use of this term). It creates the false

* Corresponding author. Tel.: ϩ1-612-624-5717; fax: ϩ1-612-6243377. E-mail address: (M.S. Anderson).
1078-1439/$ – see front matter © 2011 Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. doi:10.1016/j.urolonc.2010.09.013

impression that another’s words or ideas originated with

Aspects of plagiarism
Plagiarism is included, along with fabrication and falsification, in the U.S. Federal definition of misconduct, which states, “Research misconduct is defined as fabrication, falsification, or plagiarism in proposing, performing, or reviewing research, or in reporting research results” [1]. The definition further specifies that “Plagiarism is appropriation of another person’s ideas, processes, results, or words without giving appropriate credit” [1]. This definition, the development of which is described below, clearly associates plagiarism with the misappropriation of intellectual contributions beyond specific words. It also extends the context of plagiarism beyond publication to the prior stages of proposing, performing, and reviewing research. The definition does not, however, provide a foolproof

standard for deciding when an act of plagiarism has been
committed. It would seem that a passage taken from an
earlier source and repeated verbatim and without acknowledgement in a later publication would be clear evidence of plagiarism, and, in fact, it usually is. Such...

Citations: M.S. Anderson, N.H. Steneck / Urologic Oncology: Seminars and Original Investigations 29 (2011) 90 –94
mation into the scientific system, which is fundamentally
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