Of serendipity and procrastination

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Some call it “procrastination,” some call it “following your nose.” Maybe it’s a bit of both. Especially when you should be doing something else, anyway.  Following your nose can lead you to places you did not know you wanted to go.  That’s serendipity for you. And for me.

As well as (instead of?) what I should be doing today, I am also writing a follow-up piece to my earlier post, Not just honesty. It’s getting longer and longer, and I might well make two more articles out of it. My fact-checking for this follow-up piece took me to the bibliographic management tool EndNote. Wow! It claims to offer more than 6,000 bibliographic styles,  and while many of them are surely very similar, there will be some major differences too.

EndNote also lists 13 in-text citation styles, although we should probably dismiss citation styles “O” and “Author-Year-Cited Pagese” as typos, as there is only one example of each.

And this is where serendipity/ procrastination/ nose-following really pitched in.

The journal which uses “Author-Year-Cited Pagese” is Metaphilosophy,  published by Wiley. I went to the journal’s Author Guidelines page, to find that this was indeed a typo; the example in-text citation given is “(Jones 2004, 53)” – Author-Year-Cited Pages (and not “Pagese”).

It’s the other typo where things get really interesting. The one journal which EndNote lists as using Citation Style “O” carries the title Sexual Development. It is published by Karger.

The examples given in this journal’s Guidelines for Authors,  include Jones (1999), Jones and Smith (2000), and Jones et al. (2001).   Not style “O” – this is an author-date style of in-text citation.

 

In scrolling down the page, my eye had been caught by a passage labelled “Plagiarism Policy. Once I had settled my curiosity regarding the citation style, I scrolled back up. The journal’s Plagiarism Policy states

Whether intentional or not, plagiarism is a serious violation. We define plagiarism as a case in which a paper reproduces another work with at least 25% similarity and without citation.

Up to 25% is deemed acceptable? That’s generous – zero per-cent is nearer my mark. It is not clear whether this means 25% of the original (copied) work or 25% of the paper which is submitted to the publishing journal.

Is this common practice?  Maybe.  A search on Google for the exact phrase [“we define plagiarism as a case in which a paper reproduces another work with at least”] comes up with 17 hits.  There are 17 journals which use this as part of their plagiarism policy.  Scrolling down the results page, I see that 13 hits include the sentence

We define plagiarism as a case in which a paper reproduces another work with at least 25% similarity and without citation.

The four other journals take a much tougher stance:

We define plagiarism as a case in which a paper reproduces another work with at least 20% similarity and without citation.

It should not surprise that 12 of these 17 titles or their publishers are included in Jeffrey Beale’s list of Potential, possible, or probable predatory scholarly open-access publishers  or his Potential, possible, or probable predatory scholarly open-access standalone journals.

At the foot of the Google hits page is the note

In order to show you the most relevant results, we have omitted some entries very similar to the 17 already displayed.
If you like, you can repeat the search with the omitted results included.

 Hmmm. I don’t always repeat the search. Perhaps I should, more often.  I certainly did this time.

WTF?

There are 294 journals (that Google knows of) which include the search terms, in quotation marks, the exact phrase…

Fortunately, they seem to be from the same stables: there are a lot from the sciepub.com stable, a lot of asdpub.com journals, a lot from karger.com.

No, I won’t go exploring, not today.  You can take procrastination too far?  I can.  Back to work!

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