Plagiarism: An Unethical Inscription

Lalit Gupta*

Consultant, Anaesthesia & ICU, Maulana Azad Medical College, India.

*Corresponding author: Lalit Gupta, Consultant, Anaesthesia & ICU, Maulana Azad Medical College, India.

 E-mail: lalit.doc@gmail.com

Citation: Gupta L (2018) Plagiarism: An Unethical Inscription. J Reg Anesth Intensive Care 2018: 1-3.

Received Date: 19 November, 2018; Accepted Date: 11 December, 2018; Published Date: 17 December, 2018

Originality is undetected Plagiarism:  William Ralph Inge

Although plagiarism is difficult to define in few words, it can be viewed as an unacknowledged use of work of someone else’s in any form intentionally or unintentionally without proper permission, whether or not such work has been published.

One of the most deterring tasks for a journal’s reviewers and editors is plagiarism check. Plagiarized data and text may corrupt scientific medical literature and pass same information again and again to readers without any new innovation or suggestion. This amounts to a new form of scientific misconduct where the theft is of data or medical literature from some other source wrapped under a new name which amount to forgery and fiddling of scientific literature. In other words, we are talking about copying for which no formal acknowledgement has been made. This is now a days considered similar to other criminal misdemeanours [1].

The plagiarism is an evil in the way that it kills the creativity and innovation and re-echoing of same thoughts again and again that are not one’s own. In recent years the plagiarism has rooted deep in medical education with all credits goes to internet, where finding and copying a file is very easy and many online software are easily available for conversion of text from one form to other. Although the internet has made both copying and detecting plagiarism much easier but the ultimate decision about its acceptance involves human judgment.  In recent years, while reviewing, I have come across two types of plagiarised materials. While in first one, authors have tried to change the sentences by juggling the words or better to say by rephrasing the sentence also called as ‘Close paraphrasing’. Although they are many times successful in such efforts but sometimes, it kills the very own spirit of research and readers are confused with the inference of the text. Second method of plagiarism is more innovative, here authors take an image or flow chart and change the colour or the flow of diagram with online softwares. In such cases, it becomes very difficult to find them and whole decision of accepting or rejecting depends on reviewer’s experience and skills.

The problem of plagiarism is not specific to geographic region or person but writers from all over the world have been found to be involved in plagiarism misconduct from time to time. The reason being easy and ever availability of personal laptops, computers and tablets with ever persisting internet leading to easy and affordable reach to distant literature. As a result, newer data and manuscripts are published more frequently and more efficiently in comparison to decade old eras but at the cost of lack of novelty and poorly drafted and sometimes proscribed publications. It is also not uncommon to copy the texts already published abroad and plagiarised to publish locally as chances of being caught are very remote in such cases. 

Relative lack of acquaintance with the English is a major factor for plagiarism as paraphrasing is a much tougher job than just copy-paste plagiarism. A simple modification in manuscript by using some amount of copy–paste and some amount of text wrapping seems to be common but remember that text overlap sometimes doesn’t comes under plagiarism.  In comparison, plagiarism is comparatively more complex and amounts to the the re-use of the wording or ideas of someone else without proper acknowledgement, which is never honoured in scientific world. One should aim for 0% plagiarism if possible. Therefore, the authors’ especially postgraduate residents, should be educated about ethical medical writing by proper classes and presentations. Even if authors sometimes want to re-use parts of their previous works than they too need to have permission from the copyright holder and they also give proper citation about the re-use.

What should be ideal plagiarism percentage is quite debatable as it is just a number and it cannot justify the misconduct of stealing someone else’s work without due credit. The percentage sometimes misleading as it does not give insight on whether it is actually copied intentionally or just repletion of some universal facts. For example, a standard definition or a formula cannot be changed but it will always appear as plagiarised text. So in terms of absolute numbers a percentage say less than 20% may be considered acceptable keeping in mind that it may be the natural requirement while quoting some standard definition, citation or some research part from already published data needed to build a platform for present manuscript.

Sometimes a plagiarism of more than 20% may be acceptable if the content is not of completely ripped off paragraphs while a percentage of less than 10% may not be acceptable if it involves completely ripping of some vital information from other source. So Acceptable percentage is sometimes depending on reviewer’s conscience too.
I as an editor and reviewer always used to think that 0% is the only correct answer for plagiarism. But soon I recognised on carefully assessing the manuscripts that are being assessed by a plagiarism software on a computer which sometimes misjudge the actual credit and gives a relatively higher percentage. But this somehow avoidable if you are honest in your citation of previous work. Infact, it would be worse if the references that have significantly influenced your work are not included or citied properly.  The drawbacks of using software to detect plagiarism cane be reduced by redefining rules for capitulations (e.g. avoid cover pages so that not to include common names or place in detection) and change the settings of the software for not checking references and quotations. Also remember there is a Similarity score too, where higher values up to 25% may be allowed depending on journal’s criteria. The similarity score differs from journals to journal and institution to institution. This Similarity score is the amount of text that has been found in other published material. If this is referenced properly then that is not plagiarism.

Practical tips to avoid plagiarised misconduct in research work [2]: Avoid submitting others research as their own. Don’t use even your own previous work without proper citations. Avoid re-writing others work without due citations and acknowledgement. Even for quotations, citations are must. Avoid practice of citing a small part and leaving major part uncited. Never ever blend together cited and uncited sections. Avoid providing inaccurate or incomplete citations about borrowed ideas. Authors must understand that replica of a published article by any means or in any form is unethical. It only unlawfully increases the volume of their curriculum vitae. Besides, it also increases the burden on the peer-reviewers in terms of both time and intelligence.

Always remember the dictum: Too much relying on other’s work, fails miserably the very own concept of originality into the text.


  1. Triggle CR, Triggle DJ (2007) What is the future of peer review? Why is there fraud in science? Is plagiarism out of control? Why do scientists do bad things? Is it all a case of: “All that is necessary for the triumph of evil is that good men do nothing?” Vasc Health Risk Manag 3; 39–53.
  2. Syed W P, Aisha M A, Marei H M, Syed A P (2013) Simple steps to avoid plagiarism and improve scientific writing. Libyan J Med. 8: 10.