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Scientific Research Mashups - Higher Risk for Plagiarism?

Posted by David Rothschild on Aug 11, 2010 2:24:00 PM recently covered a new and unique  ‘Web 2.0′ method of publishing scientific research.  Liquid Publication, a European collaborative, has built a software platform that allows scientists to easily post their research to an online journal. 

researcher science plagiarismThe platform also would enable other researchers to search, link to, comment on and ‘gather’ research within their own journal.

The goal of the software is to allow scientists to easily collaborate with one another, bring forward the ‘good’ research based on how scientists interact with it, and to promote quality over quantity.

The software was developed with the belief that the current system of scientific publication is flawed. 

From the Liquid Publications Website

“Scientific knowledge dissemination is still based on the traditional notion of “paper” publication and on peer review as quality assessment method. The current approach encourages authors to write many (possibly incremental) papers to get more “tokens of credit”, generating often unnecessary dissemination overhead for themselves and for the community of reviewers.”

Utilizing the full capabilities of the internet to further scientific research is a great idea – however, the implementation of this kind of platform needs to be carefully evaluated.  

‘Web 2.0′ is a term that gets thrown around a lot, although it generally corresponds to several specific traits that define a website or web community.  Collaboration and real-time social interaction are both traits that could greatly benefit the research community, allowing scientists to piggyback on similar research topics and  move forward at a rapid pace.

In the Web 2.0 environment, sharing content also eventually leads to the ‘mashup.’   A mashup is a mix of multiple sources of content.  For example, a mashed-up video could combine clips from several movies, songs and voice-overs.  

One problem the movie and music industries first encountered (and are still battling) in a Web 2.0 world was the illegal use of copyrighted content in mashups. In many cases, mashups were illegally using the intellectual property of individuals and companies.

The research community needs to consider that with an open platform like Liquid Publication, there would be a high risk of misuse. 

Essentially, the platform would be facilitating the creation of ‘research mashups.’ 

Plagiarism is already a big problem for publishers that have a peer review process; recent studies have indicated a high volume of plagiarized content is getting submitted to scientific journals around the world.  Such an ‘open’ system would only increase the likelihood of plagiarism – content could  be more easily duplicated and re purposed without proper attribution. 

Any researchers that participated in the platform would be putting their work at risk.

For a platform like this to work and attract the best scientists in the world it needs to first protect their intellectual property.   A researcher needs to have the assurance that if they publish online, their research won’t simply be stolen and used elsewhere.


Akst, Jef. “Publish or Post” The Scientist. 9 August 2010.

Liquid Publications – Scientific Publications Meet the Web.