Summary: A reader of my blog alerted me to significant word-for-word plagiarism in an article published in Springer’s journal Scientometrics. I analyzed the article and confirmed plagiarism. I reported the plagiarism to the journal’s editor, András Schubert, but he responded with a condescending email dismissing the plagiarism as unimportant.
The article in question is:
Akhmat, Ghulam, Zaman, Khalie, Shukui, Tan, & Ahmed, Tauseef. (2013). Educational reforms and internationalization of universities: evidence from major regions of the world. Scientometrics 98, 2185-2205.
The plagiarism consists of multiple paragraphs copied word-for-word from other sources and strung together. The copied paragraphs do contain a citation at the end of each paragraph, but no quotation marks are used. Here is an example — The introduction paragraph is lifted from two sources. Here is the first paragraph followed by the text as it originally appeared in the original publications:
This pattern repeats itself for many paragraphs.
Next, I wrote this email to the editor and the publisher, along with one contact from Springer I made at a meeting. I copied the authors on the email. They did not respond.
I received this reply from András Schubert, the journal’s editor:
Dear Dr. Beall,
We greatly appreciate your distinguished interest in our journal, and your undoubtedly well-intentioned warning about a dubious paper published in a recent issue.
As an Editor serving the journal for several decades, I have learned that the sins and virtues of authors span a rather colorful palette, and it is far not easy to make justice even in apparently obvious cases.
Plagiarism is a severe accusation which, if confirmed, cannot be relativized or exculpated. Although according to the Wikipedia “the idea [of plagiarism] remains problematic with unclear definitions and unclear rules” (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Plagiarism), there appears to be an almost complete consensus, that the key criterion of plagiarism is that no credit is given to the source. As you correctly observed in your letter, this is not the case in the ominous paper.
I would say that the authors of the paper used a rather unorthodox technique in the Introduction and the Conclusion sections and the Discussion part of their paper: they compiled a large stock of relevant literature, and edited a coherent flow of text from selected paragraphs (a kind of “collage technique”) honestly indicating the sources of each of them separately. The lack of quotation marks may be objectionable, but it is questionable whether their use would have improved the readability or the credibility of the text. I would certainly not encourage other authors to follow this technique, but I cannot condemn it, either.
To be honest, using the customary way of summarizing the literature, i.e., inweaving cited text fragments (whether using quotation marks or not) into a host text, more often than not, the cited ideas are detached from their original context and serve merely as an amplifying aid to the authors’ arguments. At least, this kind of bias is avoided using full-paragraph citations.
Between the Introduction and the Discussion, the main part of the paper contains the Methodology and the Results. This part was found by two competent referees original and useful; these opinions supported the decision of the Editor-in-Chief to accept the paper. If you would happen to find any peccability in these crucial parts, this would, of course, justly question the correctness of the decision.
Anyway, we are grateful for calling our attention to the observed anomaly, and we promise to take marked attention to properly handle similar cases in the future.
Let me take the opportunity to ask you whether you would be willing to review manuscripts falling in the scope of your research competence for our journal. As a referee, you would have the opportunity to make your remarks in an early stage, thereby you could help us to improve the quality of our journal.
András Schubert, Editor, Scientometrics
The letter essentially dismisses my report of plagiarism and does so in a patronizing way. Schubert then panders to me by inviting me to serve as a reviewer to make my “remarks in an early stage”. This invitation leads me to conclude that Scientometric’s editorial board does little or no reviewing and is chiefly honorary.
The letter also trades on ambiguity. The definition of plagiarism is not binary, a quality that Schubert exploits to justify his inaction on the plagiarism report. By failing to use quotation marks when using the wording of others the authors of the article gave the impression that the wording they were using was their own. Failing to use quote marks is not as Schubert claims an “unorthodox technique.”
Based on Schubert’s statements, I think it’s fair to conclude the following:
1. If you are an author looking for an easy publication, you can copy full paragraphs from other publications (Schubert’s “collage technique”), including non-scholarly ones, without using quotation marks, as long as you put a short citation at the end of the paragraph, and submit it in an article to Scientometrics, and this won’t be a problem.
2. You can string together as many of these cut and pasted paragraphs as you like. Although, Schubert would be impressed if all this cutting and pasting produced a “coherent flow of text”.
3. Even if Schubert believes your paper is “dubious,” an “observed anomaly” and “would certainly not encourage other authors to follow this technique,” he will not take any action if your published work contains major portions of text that are word-for-word plagiarism.
4. If someone reports your work as plagiarism, the editor will likely dismiss the report and ignore COPE guidelines.
A Podcast for Everyone: Practical conversations answering your questions about how to make web sites and mobile apps work for everyone
The podcast is a companion to the book, A Web for Everyone: Designing Accessible User Experiences. Whitney Quesenbery and I co-authored the book, and it features interviews with two other TPGers: our founder, Mike Paciello, and one of our Distinguished Accessibility Engineers, Steve Faulkner.
Whitney and I really like to talk to people. The accessibility community is generous, and we have learned so much from people who took the time to share their knowledge and perspectives with us. We feature some of those discussions as interviews in the book.
Once the book was done we really wanted to keep talking to people and sharing those great discussions. Our publisher, Lou Rosenfeld, suggested that we try a podcast, to keep the conversation going.
With the support of Lou, Mike, and our colleagues at UIE and O’Reilly, we pushed forward with creating A Podcast for Everyone. A special shoutout goes to Adam Churchill and Sean Carmichael at UIE and Karen Corbett at Rosenfeld Media for helping us pull it all together.
In the first episode, Whitney and I chat with Adam about the book and introduce the podcast. In future episodes, we will be the ones asking the questions. We have lots of people we want to talk to and topics we want to cover. And we welcome your ideas as well—email us at firstname.lastname@example.org and follow us at @awebforeveryone.
- Episode 1: Introducing A Podcast for Everyone (mp3)
- Subscribe to A Podcast for Everyone on iTunes
- Read the transcript at A Web for Everyone book site
The post Announcing a new podcast focused on accessible user experience appeared first on The Paciello Group Blog.
Guest blog post by Dr. Ali Mobasheri, University of Nottingham
Oxford, also known as the “City of Dreaming Spires” (the term coined by poet Matthew Arnold) is a beautiful university town in the UK. It is my Alma Mater and the place that I spent four happy years in during my PhD work. Unfortunately, this beautiful city is being targeted by the notorious OMICS Group this spring. The OMICS Group is proposing to hold the 5th International Conference on Biomarkers and Clinical Research from April 15-17, 2014 at the University of Oxford. Here is the e-mail that I received from them on 26 February:
From: Biomarkers-2014 [email@example.com]
Sent: 26 February 2014 13:46
To: Ali Mobasheri
Subject: Seeking participation at University of Oxford UK
Dear Dr. Ali Mobasheri,
Greetings from Biomarkers-2014!
The 5th International Conference on Biomarkers and Clinical Research will be held during April 15-17, 2014 at University of Oxford, UK.
Biomarkers-2014 intends to ground the disciplines likes biological and applied life sciences into computational analysis, genomics & proteomics, analytical & biophysical and microarray technologies.
The conference emphasizes the areas of types & approaches for biomarker discovery, proteomic biomarkers, cytogenetic biomarkers, SNP biomarkers, molecular imaging biomarkers, microarray data analysis, clinical & non-clinical biomarkers, diagnostic biomarkers, biomarkers for disorder, clinical research & development, biomarkers of exposure, response, and susceptibility and microbial infections.
Kindly visit the conference website at:
The scientific program has been updated on the website.
We would like to know about your participation interest at this conference.
Please feel free to contact us for any further queries and concerns.
Toll Free: 1-800-216-6499
Although many of us are aware of the despicable tactics used by the OMICS Group, there may be a number of unsuspecting academics in the UK’s research community who may fall for this trap. If you know anyone who has fallen for this, please warn them and refer them to blogs published on this and other sites.