Peer evaluation: What is the Impact on Plagiarism in Science?

Posted on:August 19, 2010

Science cherishes traditions, jargon, and standards for research and writing. Peer evaluation is a valued tradition of scientific research. Scientists whose article has survived the peer evaluation process usually speak of this with pride. The current peer evaluation method may be inadequate for the challenges of new research technology, however, and the increasing temptation to commit plagiarism.
 
Peer Evaluation: What is it?

  • “Peer”: equal, often in a very specialized field.
  • “Evaluation”: assessment according to some standard.
    This is roughly synonymous with peer review. (However, the term peer evaluation also applies, for example, to grading student oral presentations, or periodic performance reviews.)
  • Scholarly journals requiring peer evaluation are most prestigious.
  • Grant proposals, disbursing taxpayer funds, often require peer evaluation.

Weaknesses of peer evaluation:
 

  1. However, this procedure is not without critics, such as Richard Horton, of The Lancet and Horace Judson, in the Medical Journal of Australia (http://www. ama-assn. org/public/peer/7_13_94/pv3112x.htm, http://www. mja.com. au/public/issues/172_04_210200/horton/horton.html)
  2. The anonymous Wikipedia author (merely a starting point) contends that peer evaluation has historically assumed author integrity, but provides no citation (http://en. wikipedia. org/wiki/Peer_review).
  3. A study detailed in Bioinformatics illuminates this deficit in peer evaluation. Researchers applied eTBLAST to a random sample from Medline, a database rich in journals using peer evaluation. 70,000 similar citations appeared. Researchers’ close reading of a sample revealed 207 possible plagiarism cases (Bioinformatics 2010 26(11):1453-1457; doi:10.1093/bioinformatics/btq146 ).
  4. According to a summary, these researchers anonymously surveyed the journal editors, and both original, and subsequent authors (http://www. scientificblogging. com/news_releases/what_happens_cases_peer_review_plagiarism )

Of those contacted:

  • 93% of authors were unaware they had been copied
  • 35% admitted copying
  • 28% denied borrowing
  • 22% had not participated in the write-up of a collaborative project
  • A puzzling 17% were unaware that they were listed at all!
  • 11 journal editors had no prior experience or clue as to how to deal with plagiarism not picked up by the peer evaluation process!

The software noted above, and others, can powerfully supplement the human efforts of peer evaluation referees. Peer evaluation is primed to benefit from the advances in technology.
 
Complexities of peer evaluation in science:

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Plagiarism or Citation: Detailing Differences: Is it plagiarism?

Posted on:August 19, 2010

Why ask “is it plagiarism”? For students, employees, researchers, bloggers, or instructors, answering the question “is it plagiarism” is critical. Ease of plagiarism and ready availability of web sources create an attractive nuisance. Detection tools grow, as does adverse publicity. Penalties include diploma delay or denial, public humiliation and professional discreditation. Here are some tips.
 
How do we answer the question “is it plagiarism“?
 
The clearest way to use another’s words correctly is quotation. However, there are many good reasons not to simply string together one quote after another. Paraphrase and summarization are key skills for any scholar, and avoid that nagging question: is it plagiarism?
 
When seeking guidance, seek websites which offer examples. You may be surprised at how drastically one must paraphrase to respond to the troubling question “is it plagiarism” in the negative.
 
Useful websites offering guidance on paraphrasing
 
A very useful webpage is the Purdue University Owl at http://owl. english. purdue. edu/owl/resource/619/01/ .Their commonsense approach to the shifting target which constitutes paraphrasing is intuitively sensible:

  • Is it plagiarism if it uses your own synonyms? Maybe not, but it still needs attribution…
  • Is it plagiarism if it condenses a broader segment of the source? Maybe not, but it still needs attribution…
  • Is it plagiarism if it is shorter than the original? Maybe not, but it still needs attribution…
  • Is it plagiarism if you paraphrased with attribution? Usually not, but see above regarding the quality of paraphrase…
  • Is it plagiarism if you quoted with attribution? Usually not, but too much constitutes poor writing and scholarship.

Another webpage, from Mcgraw-Hill, gives some tough, real world examples, using the Federalist Papers (http://highered. mcgraw-hill. com/sites/0072873469/student_view0/avoiding_plagiarism_tutorial/summarize_paraphrase/examples_of_paraphrases. html)
 
This raises some more questions:

  1. Is it plagiarism if the other’s idea is not attributed, in-text, or by footnote? Yes!
  2. Is it plagiarism if sentences show the same structure? Could be…better rephrase or quote, with attribution.
  3. Is it plagiarism if the word order is similar? Could well be…best to rephrase or quote outright and cite correctly.
  4. Is it plagiarism if the style of citation is incorrect for the applicable style manual? Yes!
  5. Is it plagiarism if page numbers have been omitted? Yes!
  6. Is it plagiarism if the source does not appear in the reference list?

The Purdue OWL guide, (http://owl. english. purdue. edu/owl/resource/619/01/)
offers the following useful suggestions for paraphrasing:

  • Reread for comprehension
  • Paraphrase without looking
  • Annotate for intended use and subject
  • Revisit passage for completeness
  • Note in quotes unique words or phrases
  • Record bibliographic info

Complexities of scientific attribution
 

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Why Plagiarism is so Tempting Today? Tips on How to Avoid it

Posted on:August 18, 2010

Regrettably, the only fool-proof way around online plagiarism software is original research. In the best of all possible worlds (from Voltaire’s satire Candide), all research is novel, using primary sources. Consider the innovative life work of Aristotle, Galileo, and Darwin. They contemplated ground-breaking discoveries, not online plagiarism software! We offer some tips for modern day scholars.
 
Originality is a challenge! Few subjects offer easy opportunities for truly unique contributions. Most academic projects have a maximum three month deadline. All professors have access to online plagiarism software.
 
So, is copying others’ work inevitable?
 
No. Most definitively; the answer is NO. Education prepares us for a life-long dialogue with the world. We learn to become insightful readers, listeners, and observers of the communities we inhabit. We should be able to absorb and use the ideas of the authors we read, and give back something individual. It is important that we learn to contribute our own responses and thoughts, without running afoul of online plagiarism software.
 
So what is a writer and researcher to do when time and creativity are in short supply, and online plagiarism software waits tirelessly? Here are some thoughts on the challenge of avoiding even disturbing the sleeping dragon of online plagiarism software.
 
Plan ahead!
 
Try to avoid pushing the deadline. The temptation to cut intellectual corners increases under stress. Stress, sadly, is not a defense when online plagiarism software has flagged your work as inappropriately copied.
 
Capture all your sources!
 
This is a super-practical tip, from painful experience.

  • The moment you open up a book or a website, immediately copy and paste the URL into your bibliography tool; RIGHT AWAY! The dynamic, interactive citation feature in Word 2007 (with file extensions .docx) helps to avoid flagging by online plagiarism software. Even with incomplete information, online plagiarism software will unable to flag your work. No excuse remains now not to insert an in-text or footnoted citation.
  • Complete this new reference as soon as possible. In this way, you will never forget where you found something. It is, otherwise, insidiously tempting to include an idea from a source you saw several days ago, or longer, without taking the trouble to find it again. This is an invitation to being snagged by online plagiarism software.
  • Cut and paste useful text into a file you label background, along with its URL. Again, this is another way to ensure that you know where you got an idea from, and can attribute it so that online plagiarism software will not flag you.

This procedure, if followed assiduously, will help you avoid being tripped up by online plagiarism software. Students accused of plagiarism may claim forgetting the source as their excuse. However, this does not pass muster with online plagiarism software.
 
Quote enthusiastically whenever the author has nailed it!

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Top Tips to Avoid Being Accused of Plagiarism – Online Plagiarism Software

Posted on:August 18, 2010

In earlier articles we offered tips to avoid trouble with online plagiarism software. These included: planning ahead, capturing references, quoting confidently, both accurately and with complete quotation marks, and citing everything disputable. Herewith, more ways to avoid any appearance of inappropriate use of another’s ideas, and to steer clear of being flagged by online plagiarism software.
 
Re-state, word by word to keep clear of online plagiarism software!

  • Even if bereft of original ideas, re-read the relevant source material. You must own these texts to understand them fully. This is a great way to avoid the need for copying and running afoul of online plagiarism software.
  • Restate, in writing, each important word. You know what the important words are; not little words like “the”. These are what online plagiarism software seeks.
  • Find a synonymous wording for each idea in the passage, to steer clear of online plagiarism software.
  • Restructure the passage so you don’t trigger online plagiarism software.

This exercise reveals the author’s meaning. This is an important learning process in and of itself. The most basic online plagiarism software still has difficulty in picking up thorough re-wordings. However, online plagiarism software is constantly evolving in analytical strength.
 
Respond to a text phrase-by-phrase to avoid triggering online plagiarism software!

  1. Take apart a passage. Type each sentence, or phrase (in quotation marks) into your text. Then type your response to it. It may well be that you have no bleeping idea what the author means. Per the inimitable, late, humorist Douglas Adams, “Don’t Panic”. This is ok. There is a scholarly way to express disagreement and complete bafflement (and not get dinged by online plagiarism software)!
  2. Locate analyses or critiques of complex texts. Almost every prestigious reading has them. Cite these too, to avoid online plagiarism software generating nasty-grams, unless restricted to specified readings. In that case, use such secondary analyses as guideposts.

Here are polite descriptions of a passage thick as pea soup, but less palatable:

  • You believe, or infer that the author means….
  • This passage suggests …..
  • is convoluted,
  • or tortuous.
  • The author is opaque
  • Offer several interpretations, and nominate the likeliest.
  • Further study of this author is needed.
  • You yourself need more study of this topic (but be careful, or this WILL be your topic next semester!).

Be consistent!
 
Sometimes one author really nails the topic. This happens with the great minds of history. (Imagine trying to re-state “Give me liberty, or give me death”!)
 
In this case, re-word, and attribute the other author’s material (see above), but also make your whole text consistent. Stylistic inconsistency is a red flag indicating plagiarism. This could prompt the application of online plagiarism software, especially in freshman writing classes, according to Susan Barr Toman, (author of When Love Was Clean Socks, formerly adjunct professor at Chestnut Hill College).
 
A silly example:
 
There has arisen a paradigm shift around the problematical issue of animal cruelty, which means that, we are less willing now to hurt bunnies. This makes the reader wonder. Perhaps they may decide to run your paper through online plagiarism software even if that is not their usual practice.
 
Read aloud to others!

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Online plagiarism software Imposes Need for Care

Posted on:August 18, 2010

Online plagiarism software has made fugitives and potential criminals of us all. Even well-meaning scholars now write in terror of online plagiarism software. We talked in an earlier article about ways to avert even the appearance of plagiarism: planning ahead, capturing all sources, and quoting. Let’s examine additional clever ways to avoid ever being tripped up by online plagiarism software.
 
When you quote, quote correctly!
 

  1. Cut and paste any quote to ensure you have it exactly. If in PDF file format, paste a block of the image into your text. (Now don’t start hyperventilating about online plagiarism software nabbing you, yet!)
  2. Next, re-type the quote either above or below the pasted text. This ensures your accurate reproduction of the quote.
    • Mis-quotes look suspicious, and could motivate your instructor to use online plagiarism software, even if not contemplated initially.
    • A precisely reproduced, properly cited and formatted quote signals good scholarship.
    • Re-typing the quote cements it in your mind as resident knowledge, for use in a defense or oral presentation. Instructors may seek such evidence as an adjunct to the use of online plagiarism software, according to Robert Harris.
    • Typing it AS A QUOTE reminds you that it comes from another person, and you will be less likely to misuse it later and awaken the sleeping dragon of online plagiarism software.
  3. Then, delete the pasted text so it does not trigger online plagiarism software after all.

 
Include quotation marks!
 

  • When typing or pasting in a quote, please type the opening quotation marks in first. Dim-witted it may seem, but even a superb, well-intentioned writer, can overlook a missing set of quotation marks in a long paper. Online plagiarism software finds them promptly.
  • In some style manuals, block quotes are indented (and may thereby avoid triggering a flag from online plagiarism software). It may be wise to adopt this as your routine practice, with instructor approval. The indentation will help you visually spot quotes later on, and insert appropriate citations. Online plagiarism software suffers from no such limitations in picking up un-cited quotes!

 
Cite everything!
 
Unless something is so well-known as to be a by-word, or a cliché, be safe, and boring, and cite someone. Online plagiarism software does not care if you are boring.
 
Here are some examples:

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What Is the Meaning of Plagiarism: Between Heaven and Hell

Posted on:May 31, 2010

What Is the Meaning of PlagiarismWe are sure that plagiarism is something more than just a plague that affects online writing services and modern media. Plagiarism is a social phenomenon and a distinctive feature of these days. So, what is the meaning of plagiarism? This is what we are going to discuss today.
 
What is the meaning of plagiarism: basic notions?
 
So, what does plagiarism mean? Basically, it is about stealing ideas of others in order to make profit, achieve fame or power, usually. The famous case of plagiarism in Joe Biden’s speech is just an ordinary example of it. So, it is more than just a problem of academic integrity or an honest business. It is a moral question and a matter of dignity, no less! But as it is with everything that concerns morality, the social meaning of plagiarism is much more complex than just black and white.
 
What is the meaning of plagiarism: more than a judiciary term?
 
Have you ever thought of development of online media? Every thought, every phrase, every idea broadcasted online becomes protected with intellectual property laws. In reality, the meaning of plagiarism is that in 20-30 years we will not have anything original. Plagiarism detection services detect only blatant word-by-word borrowings, you can say. Yes, this is true. But what is more important: an occasional wording or an idea? The very meaning of plagiarism tells that ideas are of much greater importance. But at the current state of computer technologies, we can only ensure copyrighting mere wordings.
 

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Avoiding Plagiarism: Tips from Master Writers

Posted on:April 29, 2010

Avoiding PlagiarismEvery physician will tell you that there is no better way to get rid of some illness than to completely avoid it by living a healthy lifestyle. Perhaps, it is somewhat strange to compare plagiarism with a disease. However, it is much better to avoid plagiarism completely than to allow it to ruin your reputation.
 
Based on this, only one question remains: how to do it? Therefore, we will dedicate this article to the techniques of avoiding plagiarism.
 
Avoiding plagiarism by extensive reading
 
Ironically enough, the first and foremost technique of avoiding plagiarism has nothing to do with writing, checking oneself and detection software. The most efficient way of avoiding plagiarism is extensive reading. By doing this you broaden your vocabulary, get used to different phrase constructions and pick up numerous methods and techniques of writing. It will not be a problem for you to write several distinctive texts with thousands of books read. A thousand! — one might scream. Allow us to assure you: you will need a single year to read thousand books with an average reading speed.
 
Avoiding plagiarism by starting anew
 

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Plagiarism Detector Software: More than Just Web Plug-Ins

Posted on:March 30, 2010

Plagiarism Detector SoftwarePlagiarism detector software is a wide term that covers much more than just plug-ins that you use to ensure your writing is original. Usually, the term “plagiarism detector software” refers to numerous online services that scan web pages and check them for plagiarism, ensuring the web content of the checked site is unique. Did you know that? No? Then, we will devote this article to plagiarism detector software that deals with web content.
 
Plagiarism detector software: why do they use it?
 
Perhaps, the most common reason to use such online service is to check copywriting content. Certainly, every professional copywriter checks it himself/herself: after all, his status depends on the originality of his/her material. Yet, we hope you will agree that it is unwise to rely upon one’s professionalism if it is not yet proved by an unquestionable reputation. Thus, editors who order copywriting services usually use plagiarism detector software to crosscheck every piece of writing.
 
Other regular clients of plagiarism detector software are those companies whose business is all about writing: custom writing companies, resume writing services, etc. Their reputation depends on the originality and uniqueness of their work. Thus, every piece of writing and every site page of theirs should be checked for plagiarism on a regular basis.
 
Plagiarism detector software: security levels
 
Plagiarism detector software usually deals with three security levels.

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Plagiarism Checking Tools: Free Services vs. Members Only

Posted on:February 28, 2010

Plagiarism Checking ToolsHere, on this blog, we have already told you much about plagiarism detection software. This is why we decided to dedicate this article to classification and organization of information about plagiarism checking tools and their usage.
 
It should be noted that there are two major categories of detection software: free plagiarism checking tools and those intended for members and subscribers only. There is no secret that lower prices usually mean lower quality. So most of the times, people think that free services automatically mean doubtful quality services. And yet, we would rather say that the “members only” plagiarism checking tools and their free counterparts are meant for different purposes.
 
Plagiarism checking tools: free online services
 
The main use of free plagiarism checking tools is a quick search. Such search may be required for a professor who needs to ensure that his/her student’s paper is original. Such check may also be useful to a copywriter who wants to avoid auto-plagiarizing. There is no need in sophisticated algorithms to conduct such quick check. Thus, free plagiarism checking tools are usually very simple in their nature and scan only against available web content.
 
Plagiarism checking tools: paid services
 
“Members only” plagiarism checking tools are usually used when large sums of money or a reputation is at stake. The most common subscribers of such services are major colleges and universities as well as PR companies.
 

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Plagiarism Search Engines: Available Options

Posted on:February 1, 2010

Plagiarism Search EnginesPlagiarism search engines are very useful, no matter whether you want to check someone’s work for plagiarism or you want to make sure that your own “masterpiece” is 100% non-plagiarized.
 
The structure of plagiarism search engines is rather complex and their algorithms are even more. Well, you do not need to go deep into all these technical details of how different plagiarism search engines work. Thus, let us present all this mechanism using a very simple pattern. A plagiarism-detector scans your web content or a text you type into the corresponding field and compares it against all web content available on the Internet (including those stored in archives).
 
What is the process of searching for plagiarism?
 
There are several options.

  • The simplest way is to use special online plagiarism search engines. You do not have to do much – just copy/paste your text and press the button “scan” (it depends on the plagiarism search engine you choose). You will get a report sent to your e-mail. Online plagiarism search can be either free or charged.
  • The bad thing about online plagiarism search is that sometimes plagiarism search engines “detect” very common phrases like “Let us consider…” or “It depends…” Thus, you need to analyze the report got/sent very carefully.

  • Another way of searching for plagiarism is manual. This way is very complex and time-consuming – you will have to type into a search engine phrases/sentences from your text manually.
  • If you have a blog and want it to be checked on a regular basis, you can subscribe to online plagiarism search services.

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