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Journal Review Process Increasingly Includes Check for Plagiarism

A growing number of journal publishers are checking papers for possible plagiarism as part of their review process.

That’s according to the makers of CrossCheck, a service that checks articles submitted to scholarly journals against already-published work for possible plagiarism. Over 80 publishing companies have adopted CrossCheck since its debut in June 2008, Nature News reported, and the service’s increasing use has sniffed out high rates of plagiarism in the submissions to some journals.

The anti-plagiarism service uses software from iParadigms, the California-based company behind Turnitin, which checks student papers for plagiarized work. CrossCheck compares submitted materials with the full text of the 25.5 million articles in its database, a collection of articles pooled by the publishers that subscribe to the service.

The service, which has been adopted by publishers including Nature Publishing and Sage, has turned up plenty of copycat work, including articles that would have been published otherwise. Taylor & Francis, a publishing company based in the United Kingdom, found that 23 percent of submissions to one of its journals were rejected because they contained plagiarism, Nature News reported. (The journals that were selected to test CrossCheck had seen incidents of plagiarism in the past.)

After using CrossCheck on submissions, one journal from Mary Ann Liebert, a publisher based in New Rochelle, N.Y., rejected about 7 percent of articles that had been peer-reviewed and accepted for publication, said Adam Etkin, assistant vice president and the director of online and Internet services for the publishing company. On the other hand, some of the publisher’s other journals, out of the dozen or so that have begun using CrossCheck, have not uncovered any incidents of plagiarism.

After CrossCheck has detected passages that are identical or similar to work that has already been published, journal editors must decide what to do next.

This depends on the incident’s severity and intent, Mr. Etkin said. CrossCheck sometimes flags passages as plagiarized when they have been improperly cited, and, in some instances, there are few ways to describe methods or materials differently. Editors at his company’s journals sometimes contact authors to ask them to revise their work or correct their citations.

The consequences are much more severe when plagiarists are caught: Authors have been banned from Mary Ann Liebert’s journals after they were caught plagiarizing—in one instance, for three years. In some cases, the violations have been reported to the author’s institution.

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