Plagiarism by Academics
At least these guys seem to frequently be sincerely sorry unlike some others.
In a report in the current journal Science, his team lists excuses offered by "potential" plagiarists, authors of studies in which the text was, on average, 86.2% similar to previously-published work. Last year, the same team reported in Nature that a sample of the federal government's PubMed database of studies suggests about 1 in 200 papers is plagiarized.
"Over time, the responses just got crazier and crazier," says Tara Long, Garner's colleague at Texas Southwestern. "There's every excuse in the book, from 'my hard drive crashed' to 'the other guy did it.' "
The team used a computer program they wrote called "eTBLAST" (available online) to detect about 9,000 suspicious duplicates from PubMed. The team then sent out 163 questionnaires to potential plagiarists and authors of copied works on the list, and to editors of the journals that published the studies. They received 144 replies. . . . .
A survey in Naturelast June led by Sandra Titus of the federal Office of Research Integrity, which polices federally-funded research, found about 3% of researchers observed scientific misconduct each year, largely faked data but also plagiarism. High-profile cases, such as stem cell researcher Hwang Woo-Suk's faked data or the Bell Lab's prodigy Jan Hendrik Schön's discredited results, have rocked science labs in the last decade.
"Although our numbers can sound like a lot, you have to remember there are 18 million papers in PubMed and more than 95% of studies are painstakingly high-quality efforts," Garner says. "We just need the culture of science to have the same high standards everywhere."
Some potential plagiarists' responses to the questionnaire (from Science):
•" I was not aware of the fact I am required to take such permission."
•"There are probably only 'x' amount of word combinations that could lead to 'y' amount of statements. ... I have no idea why the pieces are similar, except that I am sure I do not have a good enough memory —and it is certainly not photographic — to have allowed me to have 'copied' his piece .... I did in fact review (the earlier article) for whatever journal it was published in."
•"I know my careless mistake resulted in a severe ethical issue. I am really disappointed with myself as a researcher."