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What is plagiarism?

Plagiarism is using someone else’s intellectual property (such as words, source code, ideas, images) without indicating that you have done so. 

Some features of plagiarism

  • The most common form of plagiarism: Patch writing is the most common form of plagiarism. Meanwhile, synonym substitution is the most common form in patch writing.
  • The most severe type of plagiarism: Any case involving unreferenced (without using quotation marks or citation) copying is the most severe type of plagiarism.
  • Moderate to most severe type of plagiarism: Copy of large sections of text (including a few sentences, whole paragraph, and several paragraphs) is moderate to most severe type of plagiarism whether or not that work is cited or quotation marks are used, even though the original sources are from author’s own publications.
  • Major plagiarism: Verbatim copying of >100 words of original material is a major plagiarism whether or not the source is cited, unless the text is accepted as widely used or standardized (e.g. common used terminology and the description of a standard method).
  • Minor plagiarism: Verbatim copying of <100 words of original material is a minor plagiarism whether or not the source is cited, unless the text is accepted as widely used or standardized (e.g. common used terminology and the description of a standard method).
  • Image plagiarism: Republication of an image (photograph, diagram, drawing, etc.) without permission from original source is a severe plagiarism.

The most useful methods to avoid plagiarism for authors

  • Screen documents before submitting using anti-plagiarism software.
  • Paraphrase the copied text or matched text as possible as you can in addition to add citation.
  • Add quotation marks to the part of direct quote in addition to add citation.

How should editors/publishers respond to plagiarism?

Follow COPE’s guideline (http://publicationethics.org/resources/flowcharts) and implement its advice when faced with cases of suspected plagiarism.

Elements of intellectual property

Each intellectual property is made up three parts: words, sentence structure, and ideas.

Direct quote and Paraphrase

Direct quote is coping the source’s words in exactly the order they appear.

Paraphrase is using your own words to descript someone else’s work and always giving credit to the original source with citations. Both the words and the sentence structure of the original must be changed in the paraphrase. Do not merely substitute synonyms when paraphrasing.

Your use of a source’s material should clearly be a direct quote or clearly a paraphrase, always giving credit to the original source with citations. But sometimes authors fall in to “patch” writing where they throw together a few of their own words and a few pieces of the original sentence. It’s not a direct quote, but it’s not really a paraphrase either.

Also note that direct quotes should be integrated smoothly into your own ideas.

Patch writing

Patch writing is essentially the identical or nearly identical sentence structure with many of the same words, a few added, a few taken a way, a few changed to a synonym.

  • Patch writing is the most common form of plagiarism.
  • Synonym substitution is the most common form in patch writing.

Is “patch writing” plagiarism?

Technically, yes. That’s why it is not acceptable. But more often than not, patch writing reveals a lack of skill in research writing. It shows some intent to reword the source’s information, but it doesn’t quite make it all the way to an acceptable paraphrase. It happens more often in non-English speaking countries. When you find yourself patch writing, go back and make that part clearly a paraphrase or clearly a direct quote, in addition to add citation.

Citation and Quotation marks

Citation indicates you have borrowed the idea of someone else’s work.

Quotation marks indicate you have borrowed the source’s words in exactly the order they appear (which actually is a direct quote).

Therefore, when using someone else’s work, you must indicate you have borrowed the idea by giving a citation. Besides, if a source’s exact words have to be copied, quotation marks must be given. However, verbatim copy of large sections of text (including a few sentences, whole paragraph, and several paragraphs) is moderate to most severe type of plagiarism whether or not that work is cited or quotation marks are used, even though the original sources are from author’s own publications.

Do I have to rephrase the common used terminology?

It is not necessary to rephrase it if the text is accepted as widely used or standardized (e.g. the common used terminology and the description of a standard method).

 

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