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Year : 2020  |  Volume : 63  |  Issue : 2  |  Page : 175-176

MD, FIC Path, MIAC, DHA, Professor, Department of Pathology, Rohilkhand Medical College and Hospital, Bareilly, Uttar Pradesh, India

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Date of Web Publication18-Apr-2020

How to cite this article:
Agrawal R. Plagiarism. Indian J Pathol Microbiol 2020;63:175-6

How to cite this URL:
Agrawal R. Plagiarism. Indian J Pathol Microbiol [serial online] 2020 [cited 2023 Mar 31];63:175-6. Available from:

Dear Readers,

Editorial insights have been planned so as to give the readers a summary about the different care and precautions to be taken while planning for a scientific writeup. Putting in all great efforts in writing an article and then falling into a trap may thus be avoided. In the January issue of IJPM, we had discussed about predatory journals. The present issue would be dealing with plagiarism.

Usually, plagiarism comes to light when authors do extensive literature search looking for published articles with almost similar findings or results. It is then that they notice two or more articles with matter copied and pasted as such. Many a times, they ignore this duplicity. However, some of the aware readers move a step ahead and report the matter to the concerned authorities. Plagiarism is a serious breach of publication ethics.[1] It is an act of forgery, piracy, and fraud, considered to be a serious crime of academics. It is also a breach of the copyright rules. The World Association of Medical Editors defines plagiarism as “the use of others' published and unpublished ideas or words which is the intellectual property without attribution or permission and presenting them as new and original rather than derived from an existing source.”[2]

Plagiarism is not a single entity. It includes a variety of methods where duplicity or piracy can occur. It includes copying of text, in full or part, idea, or readings. The Latin origin of the word plagiarism means kidnapper or thief. Such theft is a form of academic misconduct with different reasons including feeling a pressure to publish, driven by their desire for recognition and/or career advancement; experiencing anxiety about writing in English; struggling to express complex ideas in their own words; and lack of integrity or even lack of proper knowledge. Plagiarism may be both intentional and accidental. Plagiarism of ideas includes copying someone else's unique idea, either as a text, observation, results, technique, inference, or use of any new terminology, without citing the original reference, even if the text has been explained in authors' own words.[3] New authors may think that even while giving due acknowledgment to the original authors, they can copy the entire text in whole or part as such. No this is not so. Instead of copying, what needs to be done is to understand the message and reframe it so as to match the theme of the present study which has been referred to. Even while stating a significant finding, it should be within the quotation mark followed by citing the reference properly.

Different forms of plagiarism can be there. Verbatim plagiarism, in which there is copying of text word by word from the previously published work. If the contents have been taken from multiple sources, then it is turned as mosaic or patchwork plagiarism. Mosaic plagiarism occurs when an author takes sentences or paragraphs from a source without using quotation marks, or keeping to the same general structure and meaning as in the original publication. Loose plagiarism includes paraphrasing someone else's work with only slight or negligible changes.

Duplicate publication is an offense as per the COPE guidelines, and the editor can take an action against the authors.[4] In augmented publication, the data are enhanced or exaggerated. For example, if the study was conducted on say fifty patients, but the results were multiplied by 4, making it to 200 so that the statistical calculations were deemed adequate. Segmented or “Salami-Sliced” publication is one of the most common forms of plagiarism because as a usual tendency, many authors tend to submit their manuscript in parts or submit it as an original article as an original or full manuscript and then extract a single or multiple case reports out of it. Text recycling is in which the matter again gets recirculate either in the same article by repetition or in some other publication. Image plagiarism occurs when the photographs are either rotated or altered marginally. Accidental plagiarism occurs when a person neglects to cite the proper source, or unintentionally paraphrases a source without attribution.[5],[6],[7]

Self-plagiarism is recycling of one's own previously published matter either in full or by reusing the paragraphs in separate journals. Self-plagiarism occurs when an author submits his or her own previous work and presents this work as original. Although self-plagiarism and duplication do not come under the stealing process, it is academically unethical. This is important considering that many journals at the time of article submission ask for a confirmation from the authors that the research has not been published elsewhere either in full or in parts. Avoid self-plagiarism by taking permission from publisher/copyright holder of previous article.

It is important to create awareness among the scientific writers toward what constitutes academic misconduct and plagiarism. Sensitization program for researchers to highlight the consequences of plagiarism is thus important. Few tips to prevent plagiarism are as follows: take out sufficient time to complete the work and grasp the core concepts for paraphrasing, avoid the temptation to “copy-paste,” refrain from duplicate and salami publication, and learn how to properly cite references. Writing the manuscript ethically and diligently will prevent the situation. The best is to mention all the information sources, give due acknowledgments, and, if required, provide footnotes wherever necessary. Use quotation marks wherever required. For extensive quotations, obtain permission from the publisher/copyright holder or original work.

Due to an increase in the frequency of plagiarism, newer detection tools are now available. Plagiarism detection software too can mislead or may have their own limitations as brought out in the present editorial. They may fail to detect plagiarism, when the content has been translated from the text written in another language, taken from multiple sources, or if it has been copied from sources which have not been digitalized such as old journals or textbooks.[3] iThenticate is one such software which works by taking a submitted manuscript and comparing the text to all the literature in its own database. It is important to note that iThenticate only checks text, so it cannot identify figures that are being used without permission, or if the work has appeared in a foreign language journal. As stated, it also only checks against the literature in its own proprietary database, so if a manuscript is outside of that database, iThenticate cannot make the comparison.[8]

Plagiarism may not be punishable by law but rather by institutions. Professional associations, educational institutions, and publishers can implement penalties, suspensions, and even expulsions of the authors. If the editor is satisfied that the act of plagiarism has taken place, he/she can “reject” the manuscript if it is in different stage of editorial process and “retract” if the article has already been published. This gives a bad name to the journal and also the author is blacklisted. Plagiarism relies on readers and reviewers to note similarities to manuscripts already published in the literature. In the case of readers making the discovery, this is regrettably postpublication and will necessitate further action to be taken.[2],[4]

We hope that today's editorial has clarified the multifaceted concept of plagiarism. Writing a scientific manuscript is an art. Plagiarism may occur at any stage of publishing including planning, research, writing, or printing. It applies both to print and electronic versions. Keeping these facts in mind and other precautions, the hidden instinct of writing could be made true.

Jai Hind!

   References Top

Sharma BB, Singh V. Ethics in writing: Learning to stay away from plagiarism and scientific misconduct. Lung India 2011;28:148-50.  Back to cited text no. 1
[PUBMED]  [Full text]  
World Association of Medical Editors. Publication Ethics Policies for Medical Journals. Available from: http://www.wameorg/resources/publication-ethics-policies-for-medical-journals.  Back to cited text no. 2
Tarkang EE, Kweku M, Zotor FB. Publication practices and responsible authorship: A review article. J Public Health Afr 2017;8:723.  Back to cited text no. 3
Committee on Publication Ethics. Guidelines on Good Publication and the Code of Conduct. Available from: [Last accessed on 14 Oct 2016].  Back to cited text no. 4
Zaenker KS. Editorial [the emperor of all academic and cultural maladies in scientific writing: Plagiarism and auto-plagiarism]. Inflamm Allergy Drug Targets 2012;11:1-2.  Back to cited text no. 5
Aronson JK. Plagiarism– Please don't copy. Br J Clin Pharmacol 2007;64:403-5.  Back to cited text no. 6
Handa S. Plagiarism and publication ethics: Dos and don'ts. Indian J Dermatol Venereol Leprol 2008;74:301-3.  Back to cited text no. 7
[PUBMED]  [Full text]  
Weber-Wulff D. Plagiarism detectors are a crutch, and a problem. Nature 2019;567:435.  Back to cited text no. 8

Correspondence Address:
Ranjan Agrawal
Department of Pathology, Rohilkhand Medical College and Hospital, Bareilly, Uttar Pradesh
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Source of Support: None, Conflict of Interest: None

DOI: 10.4103/0377-4929.282724

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