Prevalence and attitudes towards plagiarism in biomedical publishing

Plagiarism is a growing issue in scientific publishing domain. Information technology has immensely increased the accessibility of source literature, simultaneously making plagiarism easier then ever, but it has also enabled the development of plagiarism detection software tools. In order to detect and prevent plagiarism, we designed a research project to investigate two issues: the prevalence of plagiarism and attitudes towards plagiarism in the scientific community.

The prevalence of plagiarism in a biomedical journal will be measured using CrossCheck, eTBLAST, and WCopyFind plagiarism detection software. All papers submitted to the Croatian Medical Journal (CMJ, an international peer-reviewed open-access journal; in 2009 and 2010 will be checked using plagiarism detection software, which will also search for possible sources and compare them with previously published papers and texts available in e-form on the Internet. All suspicious papers will be carefully analyzed to determine the extent and type of possible plagiarism.

The questionnaire measuring attitudes towards plagiarism will be developed and validated. Attitudes will be measured on two cohorts: corresponding authors of papers submitted to the CMJ in 2009 (approx. 300 authors) and research fellows in biomedical sciences in Croatia (approx. 500 research fellows). By correlating the prevalence of plagiarism with attitudes towards plagiarism in the two study groups, we will attempt to identify cross cultural differences and reasoning behind such a behavior. Better understanding of plagiarism will contribute to the prevention and discouragement of such practice among authors. The obtained results will be used for creating guidelines for editors on using available software to detect plagiarism in manuscripts before publication.

This is a research project proposed by Lidija Bilic-Zulle and collaborators from the Croatian Medical Journal and Department of Medical Informatics from the Rijeka University School of Medicine in Croatia.