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Self-plagiarism in the sciences: Some considerations Miguel Roig


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Title: Self-plagiarism in the sciences: Some considerations Miguel Roig

Self-plagiarism in the sciences Some
considerations Miguel Roig
  • February 6th, 2014
  • A substantial portion of content conveyed in
    this presentation has been disseminated in
    previous presentations.
  • (Dont wanna be hoisted by my own petard if you
    know what I mean ?)

Plagiarism and Self-plagiarism
  • Plagiarism (stealing, kidnapping)
  • Presenting the work of others (e.g., ideas,
    words, images, design/structural properties,
    data, processes, musical notes) as ones own.
  • Self-plagiarism
  • Controversial term. Is it possible to steal from
  • Passing off our own previously disseminated work
    (e.g., text, data) as new content.

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Self-plagiarism As Academic Dishonesty
  • Self-Plagiarism
  • The use of an essay or report for one course to
    satisfy the requirements of another course. A
    student must receive the instructors approval to
    use a previously completed assignment. If you
    want to use similar assignments to satisfy the
    requirements of two related courses, you must
    receive approval from all of the instructors
    concerned. http//

Self-plagiarism As Academic Dishonesty
  • The act of plagiarism can be committed
    deliberately, as in purchasing a research paper
    from a commercial source (term paper mill),
    "borrowing" a completed paper from a student who
    had previously taken the same class, having
    someone else write a paper for you, or by
    downloading material from the Internet and
    submitting it as your own work. It can even be
    submitting a paper that you prepared for one
    class as fulfillment for an assignment in another
    class without receiving permission from your
    instructor. The latter is a form of "self
    plagiarism." http//

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Self-plagiarism As Academic Dishonesty
  • Related to plagiarism is the notion of
    self-plagiarism, or using material for one
    assignment for another assignment as well. This
    is also sometimes referred to as double-dipping
    or recycling assignments and is another form of
    academic dishonesty. While this is sometimes
    permissible, especially if the student will be
    doing a larger project or greater work in order
    to fulfill more than one assignment, the
    permission of each affected instructor must be
    obtained. http//

Most university policies that cover
self-plagiarism address the issue of reusing
entire papers from one course to another. But
what about reusing portions of papers?
Self-plagiarism As Academic Dishonesty
How much is too much?
  • As instructors, how much covert recycling
    (without attribution) would we be willing to
  • Three quarters of a previously submitted
  • Half of the previously submitted assignment?
  • How about a quarter of the assignment?
  • Three paragraphs?
  • The expectation is for students to always submit
    original work.
  • Shouldnt the same expectation be applied to us?

Why is self-plagiarism ethically problematic?
  • The reader-writer contract
  • In most situations and unless we indicate
    otherwise, readers of our work assume that the
    material they are reading is
  • Accurate.
  • Original (we wrote it!).
  • New (hasnt been submitted/published before).

  • Self-plagiarism as research misconduct

Research Misconduct - Fabrication,
falsification, and plagiarism. Self-plagiarism
does not generally fall under the definition of
research misconduct by the federal agencies.
Self-plagiarism as research misconduct?
ORI often receives allegations of plagiarism
that involve efforts by scientists to publish the
same data in more than one journal article.
Assuming that the duplicated figures represent
the same experiment and are labeled the same in
both cases (if not, possible falsification of
data makes the allegation significantly more
serious), this so-called selfplagiarism does
not meet the PHS research misconduct standard.
However, once again, ORI notes that this
behavior violates the rules of most journals and
is considered inappropriate by most
institutions. Dahlberg, J. (September, 2007).
ORI Retains Its Working Definition of Plagiarism
under New Regulation. ORI Newsletter
Self-plagiarism as research misconduct?
Types of self-plagiarism
  • Duplicate (triplicate, quadruplicate)
  • Redundant publication.
  • Augmented publication.
  • Segmented/Piecemeal/Salami publication.
  • All of these practices are acceptable AS LONG AS
    the reader is made aware of the origin of the
    earlier material (OVERT as opposed to COVERT
  • Most journals are only interested in original

Self-plagiarism How extensive is the problem?
Empirical evidence for self-plagiarism
  • Schein (2001) found that 14 of 660 articles
    represented a clear form of redundant
  • Schein, M. (2001) Redundant publications from
    self-plagiarism to Salami-Slicing. New
    Surgery, 1, 139-140.

Empirical evidence for self-plagiarism
  • von Elm, et al. (2004), reported that of 1,234
    articles reviewed in the area of anesthesia and
    analgesia, 5 were duplicates that gave no
    indication as to the original publication.
  • von Elm, E., Poglia, G., Walder, B. Tramèr,
    M. R. (2004). Different patterns
  • of duplicate publication. Journal of the
    American Medical Association. 291,
  • 974980.

Many do not believe self-plagiarism is unethical
  • In a study of health educators, Price, et al.
    (2001) reported that 64 of their sample stated
    that self-plagiarism is an acceptable behavior
  • Price, J. H., Dake, J. A., Islam, R. (2001).
    Selected ethical issues in research and
    publication Perceptions of health education
    faculty. Health Education and Behavior, 28, 51-64.

The danger of covertly self-plagiarized data
  • Tramèr, Reynolds, Moore, McQuay (1997)
    demonstrated how a drugs efficacy can be
    overestimated by the inclusion of covert
    duplicates. In these cases the end result could
    conceivably put peoples lives at risk by, for
    example, leading policy-makers to make the wrong
    health recommendations

Self-plagiarism from the journals perspective
  • Most journals caution against duplicate
    publication and other forms of self-plagiarism.
  • Some journals ask authors to submit similar
    papers that have already been published or that
    have been submitted elsewhere to determine the
    extent of possible overlap.
  • Some journals have limits in the amount of text
    overlap between articles and it can range between
    15 to 30.

Why is self-plagiarism problematic?
  • It misleads others (e.g., hiring, promotion and,
    tenure committees about the true professional
    output of the candidate.
  • Covert self-plagiarism of data is tantamount to
    data fabrication. If they remain undetected, they
    distort the scientific record by either
    overestimating or underestimating a statistical
    effect (e.g., efficacy of a treatment).

What about reusing portions of previously
published text?
Evidence of text reuse
  • Roig (2005) in an exploratory study examined 9
    papers and reported that most of them engaged in
    limited text reuse. However, one of the papers
    had recycled more than 30 from a previously
    published paper published by the same author.
  • Bretag Carapiet (2007) reported that 6 of 10
    authors engaged in at least 10 of text reuse
    from at least one of their previous publications.

What can be recycled and from where?
  • Is text recycling appropriate in any section of a
  • Introduction
  • An entire previously published literature review?
  • Some sections of a review? How much?
  • Methods Sections (some can be very difficult to
  • Subjects
  • Equipment What is the big deal?
  • Procedure Do we really want to change that?
  • Results? (stock phrases)
  • Discussion? How much?
  • Short segments from each section?

Guidance on self-plagiarism of text (Its all
over the place!)
General Guidance
  • Acceptable reuse ranges from 10 (Iverson, et
    al., 2007) to 30 (Samuelson, 1994).
  • Iverson, C, et al. (2007). American Medical
    Association Manual of Style. A Guide for Authors
    and Editors, 10th ed. NY Oxford U. Press.
  • Samuelson, P. (1994). Self-plagiarism or fair
    use. Communications of the ACM, 37(8)2125,
  • Based on an informal poll of members of the World
    Association of Medical Editors, Kravitz and
    Feldman (2010) report a range of acceptable reuse
    of between 10 to 20.
  • Kravitz, R. L. Feldman, M. D. (2010). From the
    Editors Desk Self-Plagiarism and Other
    Editorial Crimes and Misdemeanors. J Gen Intern
    Med 26(1)1

Guidelines from selected journals
  • The authors must describe in a cover letter any
    data, illustrations, or text in the manuscript
    that have been used in other papers that are
    published, in press, submitted, or soon to be
    submitted elsewhere (Evolution and Development),
  • At the time of submission, authors must describe
    in a cover letter any data, figures, or text in
    the manuscript that have been used in other
    papers (Conservation Biology) http//www.conbio.o

Self-plagiarism guidance
  • Recycling data and text from ones own or others
    published manuscripts is not allowed, no matter
    what language or format the data are presented
    in. Exceptions are when an author subsequently
    submits data to an educational establishment as
    part of a thesis, or wants to re-use figures as
    part of a scientific review. If at all in doubt,
    authors should always request permission from the
    editor and, as a matter of record, always cite
    the source in any thesis or review
  • Murphy, S. P., Bulman, C., Shariati, B.,
    Hausmann, L. (2014). Submitting a manuscript for
    peer review integrity, integrity, integrity
    Journal of Neurochemistry 'Accepted Article',
    doi 19.1111/jnc.12644.

Acceptable in Methods Sections? It depends
  • Anesthesia Analgesia explicitly accepts
    self-plagiarism in the Methods section of a
    manuscript, but discourages it elsewhere.
    Shafer, S.L. (2011) You will be caught.
    Anesthesia and Analgesia, 112(3), 491-3.
  • While there are sometimes good reasons for
    reusing certain textual elements (particularly in
    the Methods and literature review), authors
    should be cautious and thoughtful in doing so

Acceptable in Methods Sections?
  • ADA journals will allow authors to reuse concise
    and well-written literature reviews and
    methodology descriptions from their own
    previously published work, assuming such text is
    properly cited and noted to the editors at the
    time of submission (2012).
  • Methods are reported that were not actually
    used. This most frequently occurs when an author
    has published similar methods previously and has
    devised a template for the methods section that
    is reused from paper to paper. Reproducing the
    template exactly is self plagiarism and can be
    misleading if the template is not updated to
    reflect the current research project.
  • Biros, M.H. (2009). Advice to Authors Getting
    Published in Academic Emergency Medicine,

Acceptable in Methods Sections?
  • Please note that verbatim copying of entire
    paragraphs (even in the Methods section)
    whether from other authors or ones own prior
    work is never tolerated (2010).

Self-plagiarism guidance COPE
Use of similar or identical phrases in methods
sections where there are limited ways to describe
a common method, however, is not uncommon. In
such cases, an element of text recycling is
likely to be unavoidable in further publications
using the same method. Editors should use their
discretion when deciding how much overlap of
methods text is acceptable, considering factors
such as whether authors have been transparent and
stated that the methods have already been
described in detail elsewhere and provided a
citation. http//
Self-plagiarism guidance APA
  • Ethics Code 8.13 Duplicate Publication of Data
  • Psychologists do not publish, as original data,
    data that have been previously published. This
    does not preclude republishing data when they are
    accompanied by proper acknowledgment.
  • Publication Manual
  • Just as researchers do not present the work of
    others as their own (plagiarism), they do not
    present their own previously published work as
    new scholarship (self-plagiarism). (p. 16).

Guidance from the APA Manual What is YOUR
  • There are, however, limited circumstances (e.g.,
    describing the details of an instrument or an
    analytic approach) under which authors may wish
    to duplicate without attribution (citation) their
    previously used words, feeling that extensive
    selfreferencing is undesirable or awkward. When
    the duplicated words are limited in scope, this
    approach is permissible. When duplication of
    one's own words is more extensive, citation of
    the duplicated words should be the norm. What
    constitutes the maximum acceptable length of
    duplicated material is difficult to define but
    must conform to legal notions of fair use. The
    general view is that the core of the new document
    must constitute an original contribution to
    knowledge, and only the amount of previously
    published material necessary to understand that
    contribution should be included, primarily in the
    discussion of theory and methodology. When
    feasible, all of the author's own words that are
    cited should be located in a single paragraph or
    a few paragraphs, with a citation at the end of
    each. Opening such paragraphs with a phrase like
    "as I have previously discussed" will also alert
    readers to the status of the upcoming material.

If you tend to recycle significant amounts of
text from your previous papers, why should YOU be
Plagiarism detection services
  • In 2007, CrossRef (DOI registration service and
    Iparadigms ( joined forces to create
    the CrossCheck plagiarism service.
  • Growing data base of major publishers, including,
    BMJ group, Elsevier, Springer, Taylor Francis,
    and many others.

Plagiarism detection
  • e-TBLAST A tool for detecting text similarity.
  • Deja vu - is a database of extremely similar
    Medline citations (over 5,000 journals). Many,
    but not all, of which contain instances of
    duplicate publication and potential plagiarism.

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Self-plagiarism Conference presentations
Types of conference presentations
  • There are various types of conferences and
    various forms of presentations and types of
    content (original data, review, theoretical).
  • Posters
  • Papers
  • Symposia/round table discussions
  • Workshops
  • Keynote addresses
  • Invited addresses

Self-plagiarism and conference presentations
Some considerations
  • Making the same presentation at multiple
  • Except perhaps for invited (review-type)
    presentations, some conference organizers demand
    that presentations be original.
  • In the above cases, what about presenting new
    ideas/data with previously disseminated
  • Always clear such matters with conference
  • When there is no requirement that presentation
    should be original, present, present, present
    but, consider letting each audience know about
    previous disseminations.
  • In addition, to avoid misleading others about
    your true research productivity in your
    publication list,
  • Always use the same title, abstract and
    authorship order/list.
  • If different title, authorship, etc., give some
    indication of any reuse.

Self-plagiarism and conference presentations
Published proceedings
  • Conference presentations are usually published in
    conference proceedings and these can take various
  • Title, authors and affiliation.
  • Title, authors, affiliation, and shorts abstract.
  • Title, authors, affiliation, and long abstract
    (IMRD), usually about a page.
  • Abridged version of presentation (IMRD) of two or
    more pages with word limit.
  • Full version of presentation (IMRD) with no word
  • The last 3 categories of conference papers
    sometimes appear as proceedings in indexed

Self-plagiarism and conference presentations
Some considerations
  • Can I publish a paper that has been previously
    presented at a conference?
  • Generally, this is acceptable when the
    presentation is listed as a title or short
    abstract in the published conference proceedings.
  • Be sure to provide an author note describing
    prior disseminations of the data.
  • If the presentation is published in the
    conference proceedings as a long abstract or in
    more detailed form, check with the
    editor/publisher of the proceedings and with the
    journal that you wish to submit the paper to.
  • Be sure to provide an author note describing
    prior disseminations of the data.

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Self-plagiarism and conference presentations
Some considerations
  • When do published conference proceedings
    constitute a full paper (original contribution)?
  • An acceptable primary scientific publication must
    be the first disclosure containing sufficient
    information to enable peers (1) to assess
    observations, (2) to repeat experiments, and (3)
    to evaluate intellectual processes moreover, it
    must be susceptible to sensory perception,
    essentially permanent, available to the
    scientific community without restriction, and
    available for regular screening by one or more of
    the major recognized secondary services (e.g.,
    Biological Abstracts, Chemical Abstracts, Index
    Medicus, Excerpta Medica, Bibliography of
    Agriculture, etc., in the United States and
    similar services in other countries.
  • Council of Biology Editors (November, 1968)
    Proposed definition of a primary publication.
    Newsletter, Council of Biology Editors, pp 1-2.

Self-plagiarism and conference presentations
ICMJE Guidance
  • Authors should also consider how dissemination of
    their findings outside of scientific
    presentations at meetings may diminish the
    priority journal editors assign to their work. An
    exception to this principle may occur when
    information that has immediate implications for
    public health needs to be disseminated, but when
    possible, early distribution of findings before
    publication should be discussed with and agreed
    upon by the editor in advance.
  • Overlapping Publications, http//

When is recycling appropriate?
  • From conference to paper? Vice versa?
  • From doctoral/Master thesis to journal article?
    Vice versa?
  • What if the article is multi-authored?
  • From grant application to paper? Vice versa?
  • From grant to grant? (Skip Garners work)
  • Wide vs. narrow dissemination.
  • From journal article to book? vice versa?
  • Recycling across different sets of authors?

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Thank you!
  • Miguel Roig
  • St. Johns University
  • 300 Howard Avenue
  • Staten Island, New York 10301
  • Voice (718) 390-4513
  • Fax (718) 390-4347
  • E-mail
  • http//