Interview: Ithenticate Is a Safety Net for Our Assessment Reports

Posted by Jessica Gopalakrishnan on Dec 19, 2011 9:38:00 AM

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I had the opportunity to speak with Eric Kissel of the University Corporation for Atmospheric Research, who discussed how iThenticate has enabled them to block plagiarism from their assessment reports.

Watch the Highlights of Our Interview:

Full Interview

We are very pleased to have Eric Kissel from the University Corporation of Atmospheric Research with us today. Could you briefly tell us about your organization and your role there?

(Kissel) My official title is Program Specialist, for the Working Group II Technical Support Unit for the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), which is a program establish by the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) and the World Meteorological Organization (WMO).

Why did you decide you needed to implement a service like iThenticate?

(Kissel) We first started using iThenticate because one of the authors that contributes to our assessment reports that we produce alerted us to some text that looked a little bit too familiar to this expert that we work with. So we explored a little bit further and we decided to do a trial run with iThenticate, which proved very useful. We discovered that we did have some potential issues and that we needed to get the iThenticate license in order to screen all of our reports moving forward.

What surprised you the most about iThenticate?

(Kissel) I think what surprised me the most was its vast access to the internet and to various databases that allow it to pick up articles and internet sites from all over. Also, the thoroughness that the reports generate.

In terms of content do you feel that the iThenticate database covers everything that you need?

(Kissel) Absolutely. I am really impressed that it goes down to three and four word phrases if you do wish to get that specific. I think it is quite clear that it has an exhaustive database that it taps into.

What percentage of work you receive every year that contains plagiarism?

(Kissel) It varies wildly in our chapters. We are kind of in a unique situation where what we produce is actually an assessment of literature that has been previously cited. So much of what we see varies between some text that is inadequately cited, perhaps it should be thrown into quotes where the citation is there but it isn’t properly cited. Then there’s obviously the other cases that are more overtly plagiarism. It varies wildly within our chapters anywhere from as low as 5%, but I have seen as high as 30% before.

Which iThenticate reports do you rely on the most?

(Kissel) I rely almost exclusively on the Similarity Report. I find the output to be very useful and it is easy for me to be able to transfer that into something that I can share with our authors that contribute to our assessment reports.

Any best practices for using iThenticate?

(Kissel) What I found most effective is to:

  1. Run a paper through the Similarity Report.
  2. Then what I typically do is I will save that to a PDF/preview mode on the Mac.
  3. I provide my own decoding key to help them understand what they are looking at.
  4. Then I share that with our authors who are contributing to our assessment.
  5. I show them that it displays nicely and how to see the original references. The multi-color highlighting really draws out their attention to text that needs to be rewritten.

How has iThenticate most impacted UCAR?

(Kissel) iThenticate has introduced an extra layer of quality assurance to our assessment reports. Our reports go through three to four drafting stages and our authors receive tens of thousands of review comments from experts and governments from around the world. iThenticate has provided an additional layer of review for our assessment reports.

Any advice for other government organizations?

(Kissel) We rely on hundreds of experts in the field that we work in to provide us with high-level technical and scientific assessment of literature. You can never be too certain that even at the highest level that you are always getting original content. iThenticate has provided the kind of safety net that we were looking for.

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