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Plagiarism: A concern about ethical aspects of publishing
Dr. Pragya Khanna1/19/2018 8:50:53 PM
Plagiarism refers to the act of "appropriation of another person's ideas, processes, results, or words without giving appropriate credit". Most academic researchers reach an agreement that plagiarism is a serious infringement of publication ethics.
The term plagiarism stems from the Latin word plagium, meaning kidnapping a man. Plagiarism of text and recycling of words might be seen rather commonly these days. However, its impact differs in the subjects encompassing humanities and literature where the essence of work and novelty are wordings and articulacy of the text. However, the things are different in Science where the essence of the work is the originality of the scientific content no matter how eloquently it is presented.
Unlike an author in the field of literature, the author of a scientific paper should follow certain well-established scientific methodology and always be watchful not to be affected by his or her perception or different sorts of biases that might endanger the judgment of a researcher. In this way, as long as the author is a fair observer and relies on the solid facts, evidence, and entrenched scientific methods, no matter how expressive he or she is, the scientific findings can be reported and published provided that he or she uses a universally well-accepted scientific methodology for conducting and reporting science.
In Science, the innovation/originality is not in wordings; it is in the scientific substance. In fact, in many scientific writing courses the authors are advised to put across the message in its simplest form, which is typically not its most eloquent form, since science itself is complex enough and there is no need for sure to make it more complex using classy writing.
Nevertheless, without paying any consideration to the field of interest, plagiarism is typically seen as a severe violation of scholarly ethics, being a theft of recognition for ideas in a competitive intellectual marketplace. This emphasis, although ignores the vast amount of institutionalized plagiarism, including ghost writing and attribution of authorship to overbearing elites.
The introduction of word processing and computer networks makes plagiarism easier to carry out and even harder to detect. At this point it may be useful to make a few distinctions. The most noticeable and provable plagiarism occurs when someone copies phrases or passages out of a published work without using citation marks, without acknowledging the source, or both. This can be called word-for-word plagiarism. When only a few of the words are changed but not enough, the result can be called paraphrasing plagiarism. This is considered more severe when the original source is not cited. A more subtle plagiarism occurs when a person gives references to original sources, and perhaps quotes them, but never looks them up, having obtained both from a secondary source, again which is not cited.
More common than this is plagiarism of ideas, in which an original thought from another is used but without any reliance on the words or form of the source. Finally there is the direct case of putting one's name to someone else's work, which might be called plagiarism of authorship.
Most of the plagiarism by University students that is challenged by their teachers is word-for-word plagiarism, simply because it is easiest to detect and prove. One of the most serious types, plagiarism of authorship, which occurs when a student gets someone else to write an essay, can be extremely difficult to detect and prove.
As for those who plagiarize ideas, it is practically impossible to take action. Among many academics and scientists, there is a great apprehension that one's ideas will be stolen by unscrupulous and dishonest competitors. This often results in an unwillingness to share ideas.
Another aspect commonly called Ghost writing is also seen as routine in the popular press. When a politician, famous sports figure, business executive, or movie star gives a speech or writes a book or newspaper column, more often than not the actual writing is done by someone else. Sometimes, in books, this is acknowledged, for example, The Autobiography of Mr. X written by "Mr. X with the assistance of AZ ". The "with" in such cases precedes the person who did the writing. But in many cases the writer is listed only in small print on an acknowledgments page, or not at all. Ghost writing is a type of plagiarism of authorship: a failure to suitably recognize contributions.
In scientific research, the phenomenon of "honorary authorship" is commonplace. In typical cases, a supervisor or research guide, who has done little or none of the research, is listed as co-author of a research paper and many a times as the first author.
Another type of ghost writing is political speechwriting. A few politicians write their own speeches, but most rely on speechwriters, who are rarely acknowledged in an appropriate way. The same situation applies to big-name comedians, few of whom write the script of their programs.
Another and even more frequent perversion of authorship occurs in bureaucracies, including government, corporate and trade union organisations. Work that is done by junior workers is commonly signed by higher officials. The official explanation is that the person whose name goes on a document is organizationally responsible for that work, but they also are commonly considered to be "responsible" in terms of gaining credit for doing the work, especially by outsiders. This phenomenon is so commonplace that it is seldom mentioned in discussions of either plagiarism or bureaucracy.
Once again I place the emphasis on digital technology that makes copying and pasting easy, of course. But that is the least of it. The Internet may also be redefining how students, who came of age with music file-sharing, Wikipedia and Web-linking, understand the concept of authorship and the singularity of any text or image.
Today, we have a whole generation of students who've grown up with information that just seems to be hanging out there in cyberspace and doesn't seem to have an author, hence it seems that they have the right to bootleg and lift any piece of writing and use it the way they please.
The consequences of plagiarism can be devastating, although it may seem very alluring. Good research and writing involve a host of skills: for a start, evaluating sources, taking careful notes, selecting appropriate quotations, paraphrasing, and giving credit to others for their ideas and words. Students who plagiarize may never learn these skills, and life in college and beyond can be difficult without them.
Plagiarism also destabilizes the whole concept of academic truthfulness on which the academic world is grounded. All knowledge depends on previous knowledge; as Sir Isaac Newton said, "If I have seen further [than certain other men] it is by standing upon the shoulders of giants" (Bartleby.com). We want people to be able to evaluate what we say, and we want to acknowledge our debt to those whose thinking has helped us. We do so by carefully crediting others for their ideas and their words.
At the end, it is possible not only to plagiarize the works of others, but also one's own work through reuse of identical or nearly identical portions of manuscripts without acknowledgement or citation. Concurrent or consequent submission of similar manuscripts with only slight differences and without citation between the manuscripts is, regrettably, a rather common practice among authors hoping to obtain multiple publications from a research project. Scientific journals discourage this practice, and usually will not permit it if exposed before publication. Occasionally, the same (or a very similar) article may be published in two journals, because the journals reach different audiences and the article is of interest to both. This practice must be approved by the editors of both journals, and the duplication must be acknowledged in each article.
Publications are the end-products of the scientific work, and their quantity and citability are keys to the promotion of scientists. Once published, a scholarly paper becomes a source for references, post-publication review and critique. Researchers and authors of scholarly papers have to follow ethical codes of Good Scientific Practice (GSP), primarily based of the principles of honesty and integrity. In the modern-day collaborative and multidisciplinary research, honesty of each and every author is becoming a pillar of trustworthy science.
By claiming authorship of scholarly works, researchers get promotion and numerous other academic benefits. However, they also become responsible for what they publish and influence future publications, and science and education at large.
Academic integrity, including plagiarism avoidance, should be taught to young students as soon as they begin to write papers. A respect for intellectual property and one's reputation should be instilled in learners as early as possible.
The best way of avoiding plagiarism is to learn and employ the principles of good academic practice from the beginning of your University career.
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