A quip heard in the hallways of some philosophy departments goes like this: when someone publishes a new book, a colleague says, “Congratulations! So, what are you calling it this time around?” With every witticism, there is some level of truth; my professional discipline of philosophy has been somewhat sluggish in addressing the problem of self-plagiarism.
A common issue encountered by editors is overlap of text with an author’s own previously published work, particularly with the increasing use of plagiarism detection software. This practice is known as ‘text recycling’ (also sometimes referred to as ‘self-plagiarism’). Opinions on the acceptability of text recycling vary greatly and it can be a challenge for editors to know how to deal with it once it has been identified.
Written by COPE Council Version 1 April 2011 How to cite this
COPE Council. COPE Discussion Document: How should editors respond to plagiarism? April 2011.
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6 May 2021
The topic for discussion at this Forum was ‘Text recycling’. Self-plagiarism, also referred to as ‘text recycling’, is a topical issue and is currently generating much discussion among editors. Opinions are divided as to how much text overlap with an author’s own previous publications is acceptable, and editors often find it hard to judge when action is required. In an attempt to get some consensus and consistency on the issue, editors at BioMed Central produced some guidelines.
An article was published in July. In October, a corrigendum was published to correct large sections of unattributed text. Two weeks later the journal and publisher received a complaint from a reader who accused the author of the published article of using text from an unpublished collaborative manuscript on which the published author was participating.
Recently, our journal has introduced systematic analysis of all submitted manuscripts for plagiarised text, using anti-plagiarism software. We had noticed increased incidences of recycling of existing text which is why we introduced the systematic check. It turns out that a large proportion of the submitted manuscripts (an estimated 30–50%) yield positive results, with copy values of somewhere in the region of 25% to >35%.