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Science Publishers Focus on Plagiarism

Posted by Janett Perry on Jul 7, 2010 2:34:00 PM

nature resized 600Plagiarism detection software took center stage as Nature recently published a revealing article that details how science publishers are equipping themselves to fight a growing trend in plagiarism within the research community.  

The Nature article follows several publishers, including Nature Publishing Group itself, and their journey over the past two years utilizing CrossCheck, a plagiarism detection service that has revealed some eye opening figures.

CrossCheck employs iThenticate’s technology as the backbone of its service, allowing it to reference databases of deeply archived content along with more recent ‘shallow’ content.  

CrossRef, a non-profit consortium of thousands of research groups and publishers, operates the CrossCheck service.  As more publishers submit their material to an already massive database of content within CrossCheck (over 25.5 million articles), the service becomes consistently more efficient at catching plagiarism.

Some of the plagiarism figures from publishers testing the CrossCheck and iThenticate service are ground-breaking.  

From Nature:  

Taylor & Francis has been testing CrossCheck for 6 months on submissions to three of its science journals. In one, 21 of 216 submissions, or almost 10%, had to be rejected because they contained plagiarism; in the second journal, that rate was 6%; and in the third, 13 of 56 of articles (23%) were rejected after testing, according to Rachael Lammey, a publishing manager at Taylor & Francis’s offices in Abingdon, UK.

The data from the journals still has its variables, including the question of whether more people are plagiarizing or whether the technology is simply allowing publishers to discover instances at a higher rate.

Either way, CrossCheck and iThenticate have already proven to be a valuable asset for science journals. 

The real difference between iThenticate and any other plagiarism detection service is its ability to access incredibly massive databases of content.  

So far journals have made use of the technology on several levels, including discovering smaller instances of paraphrasing to entirely plagiarized works that match articles from long ago.

Over the next several years as more journals adopt similar technologies within their editorial processes, we’ll likely have even more accurate numbers on the levels of plagiarism out there.  

Journals that have already adopted the plagiarism detection software are likely to see a drop in cases of plagiarized work over the next several years;  any potential plagiarizer that knows they probably will be caught is far less likely to commit the act in the first place.


Butler, Declan “‘Journals step up plagiarism policing.” Nature Publishing Group. 5 July 2010.