Monday, February 18, 2008

China and Japan Lead in Plagiarism in Biomedical Journals

A recent study by a team at University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center found wide-spread plagiarism in research papers in Biomedical journals, available in the Medline database. The researchers used a combination of a computer search program and text-matching software to automatically survey the seven million available biomedical abstracts to find possible duplication entries, and then further identify cases of plagiarism. Their result is published in Nature, which can also be read here.

With the various statistics the study had gathered, the Nature article provided a rough breakdown of plagiarism according to original countries of the authorship:
In general, we find that the duplication rate extracted from the total Déjà vu database for each country is roughly proportional to the number of manuscripts that country contributes to Medline. The top eight contributors to Medline are the United States, Japan, Germany, China, the United Kingdom, Italy, France and Canada, representing close to 75% of all Medline records. However, two of these countries, China and Japan, have estimated duplication rates that are roughly twice that expected for the number of publications they contribute to Medline. Perhaps the complexity of translation between different scripts, differences in ethics training and cultural norms contribute to elevated duplication rates in these two countries.
Also commenting on this result, Fang Zhouzi pointed out that this study had only covered publications in English language by Chinese authors and therefore did not reveal the whole picture of how wide spread plagiarism is in China. Should a similar study be conducted to Chinese language journals, Fang believed that the rate of plagiarism and duplication would be much higher. It was also an accepted "norm" in China that researchers publish the same results first in English journals and then its translations in Chinese journals, or vice versa.

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