Plagiarism in Scientific Articles


The greatly increased number of publications of scientific articles has brought the issue of plagiarism to the forefront. This applies not only to scientific articles, but also to monographs and dissertations. Even a community of scientists who are not indifferent to this phenomenon has emerged, with the desire to eradicate this practice from science.

By plagiarism is meant borrowing someone else’s text without reference to it. Given the prevalence of this phenomenon, many programs have appeared on the Internet under the general name of “anti-plagiarism”. Any text placed on the Web can be instantly checked for so-called unauthorized borrowings. It is more difficult to identify the plagiarism of various images from photographs to paintings, music and other works of art.

When submitting an article to a journal, the author should know that it will definitely be checked and accepted for review, if its uniqueness is not lower than the requirements set by the journal. Different publications use different programs “Anti-plagiarism”. Which one you need to specify in the editorial board, if it is not specified in the requirements for the design of articles submitted to the journal. As a rule, the required uniqueness ranges from 85% to 90%. One should keep in mind that the text that the author cites does not affect the uniqueness of the article if there is a reference.

Unsuccessful citation

Unfortunate citations in most cases include errors made in the references and in the reference lists at the end of the article. In connection with the transition to bibliometric indicators in the evaluation of the work of researchers and teachers the citation in scientific papers is treated rather strictly.

This can also include semantic errors when a citation is out of place or there is an error in the source of citation. In order to avoid such misunderstandings it is necessary to carefully read the text before sending it to the editorial board or for review.


Self-plagiarism takes place in the case of pursuit of volume and number of publications, when the author replicates previously published works under a different name without referring to them. In this way the author increases the number of published works.

What is self-plagiarism? It is necessary to define the concepts. To begin with, self-plagiarism is an ethical problem, not a legal one. Unlike plagiarism, in this case there is no appropriation of someone else’s authorship, which means there is no appropriation of someone else’s property. The author cannot cause himself property damage, and therefore there is no violation of property rights. After all, the essence of plagiarism by and large is the appropriation of someone else’s idea, not the copying of a text.

The self-copying of the text damages the reputation of the magazine, but legally it is not forbidden. That is why in the contracts of the publication with the author there is a clause that prohibits the author of a scientific article to publish it in another journal. But this does not prevent the author to publish an article slightly changing the title and stating the same text in other words. If the author cites in the text fragments from his own article published earlier, he must make it by all the rules of citation.

How to avoid plagiarism

Taking into consideration the constant improvement of anti-plagiarism systems, young authors are faced with the question of how to avoid plagiarism. Moreover, the international publication of articles in all serious journals requires obligatory reviewing, which together with anti-plagiarism system puts a serious obstacle against copying and borrowing of ideas from other people. And not only in our country, but abroad as well. To avoid accusations of plagiarism it is necessary to write the text in your own words and give a link to the source at the end. If you write an article or an essay yourself, the chances of literal reproduction of the text are very small, but if you consciously copy the text, they are more than high.

If you still need to copy the text, you do not need to rewrite the entire page. It is enough to present most of the text in your own words, and the remainder at the end as a citation by all the rules, making it a footnote and placing a link to the original source in the bibliography.

There is another way of borrowing other people’s ideas, if there is a shortage of your own. It is the use of automated translation. First you translate the text into a foreign language, then translate it into another language. The resulting product must be edited, although this work itself will also not be easy, and pass through the “Anti-Plagiarism”. With high probability he will show a high percentage of uniqueness of the text. But this can only work if there is no normal review.

Sanctions for plagiarism

For the borrowing of another’s text with the appropriation of its authorship there is a legal responsibility. It is difficult to prove plagiarism in court, and this procedure in practice almost does not apply to scientific texts. Here the main role is played by moral responsibility, which has a significant impact on the reputation of the scientist. Especially since with the spread of the Internet, the reputational costs can be very sensitive.

Practical sanctions include, for example, refusing to accept an article for publication or even withdrawing it from an already published issue if plagiarism is detected. The fight against plagiarism is in the journal’s interest, because it can affect its ranking. Each magazine itself determines the permissible uniqueness of published articles and strictly adheres to it. This is especially true for editions from foreign leading citation databases.

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