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Year : 2014  |  Volume : 1  |  Issue : 3  |  Page : 164-167

Plagiarism: A plaque to research

Departments of Prosthodontics, Subharti Dental College, Meerut, Uttar Pradesh, India

Date of Web Publication8-Dec-2014

Correspondence Address:
S Gowri
Departments of Prosthodontics, Subharti Dental College, Meerut, Uttar Pradesh
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Source of Support: None, Conflict of Interest: None

DOI: 10.4103/2348-2915.146502

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The virus of scientific dishonesty has spread across the globe and in all age groups, students as well as faculties. Copying text, figures, tables from other published material without giving due credit are rampant. This kind of act will not only defame the individual, but also puts forth a question mark on the integrity of practitioners in general. The concept of plagiarism is by no means simple or an unambiguous one, yet unless we are clear on this, we cannot begin to make any kind of progress on the practical measures that need to be taken to reduce it. In what follows, we will attempt to explore the confusions and contradictions in the way the term is currently used, and an attempt is made to relocate its meaning such that at least some information and knowledge can be imbibed.

Keywords: Copy, ethics, plagiarism

How to cite this article:
Gowri S, Makkar S, Singh S P, Kaur M. Plagiarism: A plaque to research. J Dent Res Rev 2014;1:164-7

How to cite this URL:
Gowri S, Makkar S, Singh S P, Kaur M. Plagiarism: A plaque to research. J Dent Res Rev [serial online] 2014 [cited 2022 Jun 25];1:164-7. Available from: https://www.jdrr.org/text.asp?2014/1/3/164/146502

  Introduction Top

Science has always been considered as an epitome of pureknowledge and practitioners of science should be seekers of truth without any compromise. Scientific dishonesty and unethical practices tarnish the image of the practitioners. The virus of scientific dishonesty has spread across the globe and in all age groups, students as well as faculties. Copying text, figures, tables from other published material without giving due credit are rampant. This kind of act not only defame the individual, but also puts forth a question mark on the integrity of practitioners in general. [1] The concept of plagiarism is by no means simple or an unambiguous one, yet unless we are clear on this, we cannot begin to make any kind of progress on the practical measures that need to be taken to reduce it. In what follows, we will attempt to explore the confusions and contradictions in the way the term is currently used, and an attempt is made to relocate its meaning such that at least some information and knowledge can be imbibed. [2]

  Define to Distinguish Top

Plagiarism can be defined by "The appropriation of another person's ideas, processes, results, or words without giving appropriate credit." [3] Here, "appropriation" means using or taking something that is not yours. By "ideas," we mean the original information gathered from books, journals, presentations, "words" meaning copying more than 4-6 consecutive words, re-arranging phrases or paraphrasing extensively, "processes" means adopting or using research methods described by another investigator, especially when the research method is not common knowledge and "results" meaning using or reporting data, figures, or tables that represent another investigator's research results. "Giving appropriate credit" refers to acknowledging the name of the original author, artist, researcher or scholar and providing sufficient details regarding the original publication data. In simpler terms, it is "The action or practice of taking someone else's work, idea, etc., and passing it off as one's own" as outlined by Oxford dictionary.

Copying ideas, music, drawings etc., from another student, altering information or data, paraphrasing without citation, resubmission of work without permission, using misleading references, buying or copying papers, failing to put a quotation in quotation marks and giving incorrect information about the source of citation can all be summed up as acts of plagiarism. [1] The use of this word dates back to the 1 st century where the Latin word "plagiarus" was pioneered by Roman poet Martial, who complained that another poet had "kidnapped his verses." However, this word was introduced into English by dramatist Ben Jonson in 1601, to discuss plagiary - meaning someone guilty of literary theft. [4]

Plagiarism can be either major or minor. Major plagiarism is copying of another person's data or findings, or just resubmitting the same material with another name even if translated into another language. It also attributes to verbatim copying of more than 100 words of original material, without any citation of the original source. Whereas, minor plagiarism is defined as verbatim copying of less than 100 words without citation of the original work, unless the text is accepted as widely used or standardized. It also includes copying of significant sections though not completely from another person's work whether cited or not. [5]

  Forms of Plagiarism Top

Plagiarism can occur in four different forms - Global, Patchwork, Cyber and Self-plagiarism. Global plagiarism occurs when an author steals an entire paper word-for-word from another source and passes it off as one's own. However, when an author copies sections of text from several sources and then fits them together so that they make sense, more or less is called Patchwork plagiarism. Cyber plagiarism is when a person uses internet technology to locate, copy and publish a work of another, without citing the source of information while self-plagiarism is when someone re-uses significant identical or nearly identical portions of one's own work without acknowledging or citing the original work. This is most commonly exploited by medical researchers when the same article is sent for multiple publications. [6],[7]

  Plagiarism Justified Top

Before learning about plagiarism, we need to know why it occurs in the first place. Students will state infinite excuses as to why they plagiarize. "Why does it matter? No one cares about it?", "everybody does it," "the assignment was boring," "didn't know about citation," "assignment was tough" are the common ones. However, these excuses do not cut it. There is nothing called justified or acceptable form of plagiarism. A study assessed the prevalence and content policies of many biomedical journals on misconduct and procedures for handling allegations of misconduct. They conducted a cross-sectional study wherein policies of 399 high-impact biomedical journals in 27 biomedical categories were reviewed for information relevant to misconduct policies. They concluded that only a third of top-ranking peer-reviewed journals had publicly available definitions of misconduct and less than a half had described the methods for handling the same. [8]

  Plagiarism versus Copyright Infringement Top

Plagiarism is not a crime per se but it is considered a serious ethical offence, and cases of plagiarism can constitute copyright infringement. Plagiarism is not the same as copyright infringement. Copyright infringement needs due acknowledgement even when copied from a source that permits copying permits. Plagiarism is a matter of ethics whereas copyright infringement is a matter of law. While both the terms may apply to similar act of copying text, they are completely different concepts. Plagiarism covers a spectrum from word-for-word textual copying, through changing some words without acknowledging while retaining the basic structure. If you quote from another author and provide the citation, then you are not a plagiarist. Copyright by contrast is when consent for copying is not provided though cited. As the judge put it in the 1916 case of University of London Press Ltd., v University Tutorial Press Ltd., "what is worth copying is prima facie worth protecting." In short, we can say that - Not All Plagiarisms Are Infringements And Not All Infringements Are Plagiarisms. [9]

  Six Consequences of Plagiarism Top

The consequences can be personal or professional, ethical or legal. The six consequences include: [10]

  • Destroyed student reputation
  • Destroyed professional reputation
  • Destroyed academic reputation
  • Legal repercussions
  • Monetary repercussions
  • Plagiarized research.

Destroyed student/professional reputation

Plagiarism allegations can result in suspension or even expulsion of a student from an institution. Not only a professional can be asked to step down from their present position, but they might find it difficult to obtain another respectable job.

Legal and monetary repercussions

An author has the right to sue a plagiarist. Some plagiarism may also be deemed a criminal offence possibly leading to imprisonment and monetary punishments. The consequences of a plagiarized research in medical field could mean loss of people's lives and of course, future will be in jeopardy. Section 57 of the Copyright Act gives authors the special rights to be attributed for their work. These rights are perpetual and are independent of time. Whereas Section 63 of the Copyright Act states that plagiarism is an offence and contemplates the same punishment as for the copyright violation. It states that any person who violates this law shall be punished with imprisonment for a term and shall be fined.

Plagiarized research

This is the most egregious form of plagiarism, destroying the purpose of research and hinders future research, curbing the improvements and advancements in the field. Plagiarism defeats the purpose of writing assignments. When you substitute someone else's understanding or expression for your own, you avoid the work of using and improving your own expressive ability. Second, it destroys the mutual respect that should exist between the professor and the student because your professor is expecting to read your words, not someone else's. Third, it destroys the purpose of scholarships. Because the goal of the scholarship is to discover, understand and create and that purpose is defeated when old knowledge is fraudulently presented as original and new. If you plagiarize, you are cheating yourself. You don't learn to write out your thoughts in your own words, and you don't get specific feedback geared to your individual needs and skills. Plagiarism is dishonest because it misrepresents the work of another as your own.

  Fair Use Top

Fair use states that limited portion of the work should be available for free use but only for the purpose of research, criticism or review, reporting current events, judicial proceedings or for performance by an amateur club or society. However, when a work is in the public domain, it is free for use by anyone for any purpose without restriction under copyright law. Public domain is the purest form of open/free, since no one owns or controls the material in any way. It is not protected by copyright but it can still be plagiarized. [4]

  Factors Maintaining Plagiarism Around Top

Despite all these consequences, plagiarism is still on a rise. Reasons responsible for this are personal factors like advantage of saving time and money and no understanding of ethical issues, ignorance about laws and tools against plagiarism, easy acceptance to pages like web and acceptance to plagiarism in institutions, lack of sensitivity towards others hard work and considering plagiarism as a common industry practice are maintaining it globally. [11],[12]

  Not Better be Best Top

"Prevention is not better than cure…. It is the best cure." - Sachidanand Das.

There are three things you need to do to avoid plagiarism: Think, Write, and Signal.


Think about your paper topic and the research you have done. Make sure you have actually thought about everything in your paper well enough to explain it in your own words. Make sure you start the assignment soon enough to think and understand, not just research and type.


Generate your own words to express your own understanding. If you cannot get started, or if you think your words are just too clumsy or inadequate, get help from your professor or the writing center. Other people's words should always be a supplement, not a substitute, for your own writing.


Clearly signal whenever you are using someone else's words, whether you are using them by direct quotation or paraphrase. Any direct quotation must be indicated by two things: "Quotation marks" plus a "reference" (also called a "citation") to the source. A reference alone is not sufficient to signal a direct quotation. In addition, when you are writing your own words you will naturally tend to signal a quotation with an indication in your paper, in your own words, about where the quotation comes from and why you included it - perhaps because it is well-known, or was written by an expert, or even that it expresses an idea that is particularly mistaken or silly. [13] Give credit to the original source anytime you use someone else's direct wording or while paraphrasing (rewriting the text in your own sentences) or while using something that is not common knowledge. Proper citation of the former is necessary to avoid plagiarism.

  Detecting Plagiarism Top

Various electronic detection software are available recently for detection of plagiarism. The text is run through this software and the copied part is identified as red flags. All these software systems available do not detect plagiarism per se, they simply detect nonoriginal text which are text matching from other sources. Direct quotations, correctly cited text and bibliographies also fall under this category. Hence, academic judgment is essential to detect plagiarism. Bull et al. attempted to test the accuracy of electronic plagiarism detection systems and identified it to be simple yet accurate. [14] The Plagiarism Advisory Service promotes a holistic approach to plagiarism prevention. This involves pedagogical practices and institutional policies and procedures. In addition, it provides an online plagiarism detection service in which submitted work can be checked against the materials in the Tunitin's database and matches are highlighted in a color coded originality report with a link to sources. [15] Measure Of Software Similarity (Moss) was developed by Alex Aiken , associate professor of computer science at UC Berkeley in 1994 is an automatic system for determining the similarity of C, C++, Java, Pascal, Ada, ML, Lisp, or Scheme programs. It is an Internet service used for detecting plagiarism in programming classes. Moss can run on Unix or Windows systems. [16] These are institutional software programs. There are individual software programs available for use. These include copy catch gold, essay verification engine, Glatt, plagiarism finder, plagiserve, W copy find etc. [17] It is wise to make good use of the available technology to avoid plagiarism.

  Tips to Avoid Plagiarism Top

  • Acknowledge original source by citing
  • Paraphrase in your own words
  • Use quotation marks when not your own
  • Think to create. Do not copy to create.

  Conclusion Top

As Sir Isaac Newton said, "If I have seen further, it is by standing upon the shoulders of giants." Therefore, all knowledge is built on previous knowledge. It is just but proper that we give due credit to those whose deep thinking and analysis have helped us come up with new insights.

  References Top

Chawla S. Ethics in scientific research development and management-news and views. Soc Sci Values 2010;10:1-32.  Back to cited text no. 1
Johnston WN. The concept of plagiarism. Learn Teach Action 2003;2:1-9.  Back to cited text no. 2
Available from: http://www.hr.msu.edu/documents/facacadhandbooks/facultyhandbook/ misconductproc/. [Last Accessed on 2014 Aug 20].  Back to cited text no. 3
Available from: http://www.en.wikipedia.org/Plagiarism. [Last accessed on 2014 Mar 08].  Back to cited text no. 4
Wager E. How should editors respond to plagiarism? COPE Discussion Paper, April 2011. Available from: http://www.publicationethics.org/files/COPE_plagiarism_discussion_% 20doc_26%20Apr%2011.pdf. [Last accessed on 2014 Mar 05].  Back to cited text no. 5
Mavrinac M, Brumini G, Bilic-Zulle L, Petrovecki M. Construction and validation of attitudes toward plagiarism questionnaire. Croat Med J 2010;51:195-201.  Back to cited text no. 6
Masic I. Plagiarism in scientific publishing. Acta Inform Med 2012;20:208-13.  Back to cited text no. 7
Bosch X, Hernández C, Pericas JM, Doti P, Marušic A. Misconduct policies in high-impact biomedical journals. PLoS One 2012;7:e51928.  Back to cited text no. 8
Saunders J. A Guide to Plagiarism and Law. Oxford: Blake Lapthorn Tarlo Lyons; 2009. p. 1-13.  Back to cited text no. 9
6 Consequences of Plagiarism. iThenticate. Available from: File:///F:/plagiarism%20articles/6%20Consequences%20of%20Plagiarism.htm. [Last accessed on 2014 Mar 05].  Back to cited text no. 10
Gunsalus CK. Scientific misconduct. Policy issues. In: Jones AH, McLellan F, editors. Ethical Issues in Biomedical Publication. Vol. 10. Baltimore: The Johns Hopkins University Press; 2000. p. 223-49.  Back to cited text no. 11
Rennie SC, Crosby JR. Are "tomorrow's doctors" honest? Questionnaire study exploring medical students' attitudes and reported behaviour on academic misconduct. BMJ 2001;322:274-5.  Back to cited text no. 12
Nine things you should already know about plagiarism. Office of the Provost, the Office of Academic Integrity Programs, and the Integrity Council, First-Year Composition Program, Department of English. Available from: http://www.libraries.ou.edu/help/tutorials/academicintegrity/player.html. [Last accessed on 2014 Mar 05].  Back to cited text no. 13
Bull J, Colins C, Coughlin E, Sharp D. Detection Software Report. http://www.jisc.ac.uk/media/documents/programmes/plagiarism/southbank.pdf. [Last accessed on 2014 Mar 08].  Back to cited text no. 14
Scaife B. Plagiarism Detection Software Report for Joint Information Systems Committee Plagiarism Advisory Service. Technical Report, NCC Group, Manchester. Available from: http://www.jiscpas.ac.uk/documents/resources/PDReview-Reportv1_5.pdf. [Last accessed on 2014 Jun 07].  Back to cited text no. 15
MOSS. Available from: http://www.cs.berkeley.edu/%7Eaiken/moss.html. [Last accessed on 2014 Mar 05].  Back to cited text no. 16
Warn J. Plagiarism software. No magic bullet!! High Educ Res Dev 2005;25:195-208.  Back to cited text no. 17


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  In this article
Define to Distin...
Forms of Plagiarism
Plagiarism Justified
Plagiarism versu...
Six Consequences...
Fair Use
Factors Maintain...
Not Better be Best
Detecting Plagiarism
Tips to Avoid Pl...

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