Plagiarism and Ethics of Knowledge: Evidence from US, Iran, China and Turkey

Plagiarism in Scientific Papers

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Introduction

After a revolution of science creation in the world of science and technology, and the need to publish research in an attempt to become the pioneer and source of innovation, countries are making the maximum effort to not lose this game. In this fierce competition, the challenge for developing countries is more difficult than that of other countries. First, developing countries should try to fill the gap with developed countries and then try to achieve their ambitions and be the winner of the competition. In these conditions some countries are not only unable to fill this gap, but their efforts to keep this gap and prevent its expansion are also unsuccessful. It seems developing countries’ fear of remaining behind the giant knowledge generators forces them to use their entire capacity for generating knowledge at the highest possible rate. However, sometimes the great emphasis on speed without paying enough attention to the required infrastructures and foundations for generating knowledge, not only hinders the improvement of their technological condition, but also achieves the inverse result.

 

Methods

According to judgmental sampling results, we examined one percent of all scientific papers of Iranian authors published in international journals in 2010. Of the total 29,494 articles published and listed in Scopus in 2010, we analyzed 364 articles. Subject categories, the number of articles in each category and the h-index values) to find a relationship between H index and level of plagiarism (SCImago, 2011). To assess the rate of plagiarism in each field, plagiarism detector software was used (Dustball Software). There is some research about algorithm of automatic plagiarism detection (Eissen & Stein, 2006). Such software compares a document against original documents in its database or search engines. Three or four paragraphs of the introduction or literature review sections of each article were checked because based on our experience, the most important part of plagiarism in Iran is in the introduction or literature review. Articles with at least one completely copied sentence were categorized as plagiarized articles. In addition, according to a judgmental sampling, we examined 50 papers of four other countries to compare with Iranian papers.

 

Results

Twenty-seven subject categories, including medicine with the greatest number articles (4,781), were analyzed. As is shown in Table, chemistry displays the highest value of the h-index: 77 articles cited at least 77 times over the period of 1996-2010.

Please see the file below:

Plagiarism Statistics Final

Based on the results presented in Table, it is apparent that the rate of plagiarized articles substantially varies between different categories and overall rate of plagiarism is 20 percent. Top cases of plagiarism are detected in immunology and microbiology (57%) and medicine (46%). However, there are 6 subject categories free of plagiarism in the randomly checked items: arts and humanities, social sciences, psychology, economics, econometrics and finances, dentistry, neuroscience. Last but not least, it is interesting that main part of plagiarized sentences were found in literature review sections of papers. Unfortunately, we can see high plagiarism rate among other countries base on table 2. China & Turkey with average 36% in medicine and engineering, Australia 30% and USA 15% are not in a right place and this prove a global challenges for science policy.

Discussion & Conclusion

According to study results, plagiarism in Iranian academic publications is at 20% in average and there are several disciplines where this type of scientific misconduct is exceedingly pronounced. We randomly checked Iranian publications in 27 subject categories, and found out that more than 30% of the misconduct is present in just eight subjects (marked in Table), including immunology and microbiology, medicine, and earth and planetary sciences. The latter demands targeted preventive measures by authorities regulating science policy. Notably, the number of articles published in five out of the eight marked subject categories is relatively small. Subsequently, the total number of checked articles in these five categories is less than 10, which may indicate a high likelihood of error. Mathematics, medicine, agricultural and biological sciences, all with impressive publication records and the h-index greater than 44, displayed a higher than average (for this study) rate of plagiarism. The latter excludes a possibility of inverse relations between h-index and the rate of plagiarism.

Based on our research, the increase of plagiarism in Iran’s academia is an undeniable fact. Authors believe that one of the main factors of this prevalent fraud in the Scientific Society of Iran is due to insufficient attention paid to the infrastructure of knowledge generation and management. On the other hand, the emphasis on increasing the quantity of academic outputs without increasing the required capacities of academic research (like increasing the number of researchers or research tools) are additional initial causes behind the rise of the tendency to plagiarize.

 

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