Memory hole

Yesterday, halfway through writing my next post, I needed a quotation I had used in an earlier post.  I quickly found the quotation, clicked on the link so that I could check and then cite the original source – and, horror, although part of the passage I wanted to use was still there, – the words of the vital sentence were not. They had been replaced, the evidence  I wanted to support my claim was no longer there.

The quotation in question was from the post Flattering flaws. I was commenting on a press release put out by, promoting their then-recently published study Survey Shows Plagiarism a Regular Problem in Scholarly Research, Publishing, But Action to Prevent Falls Short. I pointed to several questionable statements in the press release, statements which were not always reflected in the actual study.

The paragraph in question reads:

Editors at scholarly publications were the exact opposite, with a majority reporting routinely checking submitting authors’ work for plagiarism. The web site Retraction Watch estimates that the number of retractions in scholarly publications doubled between 2010 and 2011 (iThenticate Press Release, 2012 December 5).

and, amongst other things, I questioned the second statement. There is no evidence in the study to indicate that “the number of retractions in scholarly publications (had) doubled between 2010 and 2011” – and there was nothing on the Retraction Watch website to suggest this either. Where, I asked, had iThenticate found this statement?

I still don’t have an answer to this question. It might not even be a valid question any more, because the statement is no longer there. Instead, what I see now Continue reading

Typical? Typical!

iThenticate recently released an infographic headed “iThenticate Plagiarism Graphic” which, they claim, “illustrates the growing problem of plagiarism and other forms of misconduct in research, as well as the types of damages that are incurred by misconduct.”  The page is an “extension” of a recent iThenticate study “True Costs of Research Misconduct.

The factoids are startling, as of course they are meant to be, and unlike some of the iThenticate group’s earlier infographics, Continue reading

Floored by flaws?

A recent iThenticate press release carried the headline, “Survey Shows Plagiarism a Regular Problem in Scholarly Research” (iThenticate Press Release, 2012 December 5).

I’m not sure what to make of it. The logic, the argument, the statistics, the interpretation. There’s something not quite right. Several things. I have already noted some of my disquiet in Flattering Flaws, wondered if there might be vested interest in sensationalising the survey results?  But those are not my only concerns.

To be more sure, I went to the actual survey report, available as “2012 Survey Highlights: Scholarly Plagiarism” (iThenticate, 2012).  I wanted to check the statements, and to think again about the logic of statements made in the press release.  Continue reading

How much plagiarism?

Every so often, in workshop and in forums, someone asks, “What percentage of plagiarism is allowed?”

The short answer is, of course, zero per-cent.

The question is usually asked by someone who has received an originality report from Turnitin or other online text-matching software, turnitin-report
and it has come back with passages and paragraphs brightly coloured. The highlighted sections indicate text for which the software has found matches, on the internet or within its own databases.

Highlighted text does NOT indicate plagiarism. Continue reading

Flattering flaws

It’s ironic that I have to thank Turnitin for bringing Retraction Watch to my attention.

Retraction Watch is a blog written by Adam Marcus and Ivan Oransky. It aims to report on retractions made in science journals.  Scientific knowledge is not static, but it does tend to develop slowly. New knowledge is gained as connections are made, Continue reading