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iThenticate Blog

Read the most up-to-date information on the integrity of the research across industries, publishing in top journals, reputation and much more.

Is the Internet to Blame for the Rise of Plagiarism?

Posted by Jonathan Bailey on Aug 26, 2015 4:01:00 PM

These days, when many picture an academic plagiarist, they envision a student gleefully copying and pasting from Wikipedia in hopes of taking a shortcut on their coursework.

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Two Journals Decline to Retract Papers with Copied Text

Posted by Jonathan Bailey on Jan 29, 2015 8:00:00 AM

In December 2013, the University of Kansas issued a public censure of Marios Sophocleous, a water researcher who retired from the school that year.

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Plagiarism and Educational Material

Posted by Jonathan Bailey on Nov 21, 2014 2:55:00 PM

While plagiarism in the classrooms is a widely-discussed topic, it’s not always the students who have issues with copied content, sometimes its the educational materials that either contain plagiarism or are the victim of plagiarism.

One widely-known example involved Theresa Cameron, a former professor at the College of Design at Arizona State University. Despite over ten years with the college and having been awarded Tenure, the school terminated her, in a controversial decision, over alleged plagiarism in six syllabi.

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Literally Paying for Plagiarism

Posted by Jonathan Bailey on Aug 7, 2014 7:30:00 AM

When David Fleishman, the superintendent of Newton public schools in Massachusetts, was found to have plagiarized several passages during a June 9th address at the Newton South High School graduation ceremony, the school district took unusual action.

Rather than suspend or terminate Fleishman, the district decided to dock him a week’s salary, worth roughly $5,000.


While it is debatable whether the punishment is fitting for the nature of the plagiarism, the idea of issuing a fine over a plagiarism allegation raised a few eyebrows.

To be clear, Fleishman wasn’t the first person to be fined over plagiarism. However, most cases of a plagiarist being fined have come from the courts and, usually, for legal issues related to the plagiarism and not the plagiarism itself.

For example, in France, Christine Marchal-Sixou was fined 5,000 euro and ordered to pay another 20,000 euros in compensatory damages to a student she was found to have plagiarized her thesis from.

In Connecticut, Christina Duquette, a former grad student at Central Connecticut State University, was ordered to pay a total of $26,100 in damages for plagiarizing the paper of a fellow student. In that case, Duquette was ruled to have lied about her authorship of the work involved, resulting in another student, the original author, being expelled from the school. The original author was later re-admitted.

Still, cases where plagiarists are fined purely for the act of plagiarism are still rare. This includes cases of research fraud which, in the United States, typically only results in suspensions or bans from receiving grants, not fines or other criminal action, and book publishing, which can result in contracts being cancelled, but not usually fines beyond that.

This is because, in most cases, the body that’s prosecuting the plagiarism claims lack the authority to hand down fines. Editors at a journal, instructors at a school, etc. don’t have the ability to force a plagiarist to pay anything. Even if a journal wrote into their agreement that plagiarism would be subject to a fine, which few, if any, do, enforcing that statute would likely cost more than any fine would be worth.

The Newton school district was in something of a rare position. Being Fleishman's employer, they could take punitive action against him that included docking his pay, thus having the same effect as a fine. A publication doesn’t have that kind of relationship with a researcher nor does a school over a student.

Still, the idea is an interesting one in places where such a relationship does exist, such as with publishers that have their own writing staff. But it raises a series of difficult questions including how does one determine when a fine is appropriate? And how much should the fine be? Furthermore, should the fine be based on income, or be a flat fee?

But if these questions can be resolved, fines and levies could be a powerful tool for responding to plagiarism. While severe cases of plagiarism, especially ones that are recurring, should be dealt with using more harsh means, a monetary penalty can be a way to send a strong message over a one-time issue that might not warrant a suspension or termination.

But given the relationship between most plagiarists and their accusers, it’s unlikely that fines will become commonplace as a means for dealing with the problem. Fines are much more easily levied by courts as they already have the authority to do so.

So, until research fraud and other forms of plagiarism are treated as criminal matters for the courts, it’s unlikely we’ll hear about more cases like Fleishman's.

The opinions expressed here are my own and do not represent the views of iThenticate.

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Who Should Investigate Plagiarism Allegations?

Posted by Jonathan Bailey on Feb 6, 2014 7:05:00 AM

When a student in a classroom is suspected of plagiarism, the process for investigating the allegations are fairly straightforward and understood. Most schools have a rigid set of guidelines for who should conduct the investigation, how the case is decided, what appeal options there should be and so forth.

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Expanding Plagiarism Policies for Doctoral Theses in India

Posted by Jonathan Bailey on Sep 20, 2013 9:49:00 AM

UGC India LogoIn October of last year, the University Grants Commission (UGC) in India proposed new regulations for the awarding of MPhil/PhD degrees in the country. Among the requirements were that all schools must begin “using well-developed software” to detect plagiarism and other forms of “academic theft” and also provide an electronic copy to the UGC for inclusion in the organization’s Information and Library Network Centre (INFLIBNET), which is open to the public.

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Why Technology Isn't The Root of Plagiarism

Posted by Jonathan Bailey on Jul 25, 2013 10:36:00 AM

tree roots plagiarismA recent survey conducted by the Pew Research Center’s Internet and American Life Project found that teachers felt that, while technology has made writing easier to teach, it’s also made student writing less formal and, even more worrisome, led to an increase in plagiarism.

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Leaving Plagiarism Decisions to the Academics

Posted by Jonathan Bailey on Jun 5, 2013 4:22:00 PM

academic-board-u-sydneyIn both the U.S. and elsewhere, there has been a growing trend of plagiarism disputes in academia spilling over to the courtrooms. Whether it’s a student unhappy about about being expelled or a professor unhappy about being put up for termination, more and more are turning to outside adjudicators and even the court system for relief.

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Removing the Cloud of Plagiarism

Posted by Jonathan Bailey on Feb 4, 2013 9:59:00 AM

freedom-duckThere are few accusations and allegations that can haunt a person and their career longer than an allegation of plagiarism. This is partly because plagiarism is seen as a serious  offence, especially in academic, journalism and literary circles. However, it’s also because  the lines between what is and is not plagiarism is frequently blurry and prone to debate.

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Researcher-Editor-Professor Suspended Without Pay For Plagiarism

Posted by Jonathan Bailey on Jan 17, 2013 4:53:00 PM

U-Waterloo-logoIn August of last year, the journal of Microfluidics and Nanofluidics retracted a 2010 article entitled “Induced-Charge Electrokinetic Phenomena” by a University of Waterloo professor Dongqing Li and a PhD student, Yasaman Daghighi. The grounds for the retraction was plagiarism, specifically the misappropriation of text and data.

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