Miércoles 25 de Abril de 2007, Ip nº 188

Scientists steal turns of phrase from other papers
Eloquent language has never been the strong point of academic papers, so it's somewhat ironic that some scientists are lifting clever turns of phrase and even whole paragraphs from other published papers in a bid to sound more articulate.

"It's an increasing problem," says editor-in-chief David Williams of the journal Biomaterials. "I have come across it four times in the last year alone - twice from people at very prestigious institutions, too."

On two occasions, Williams spotted the plagiarism himself. On the other two, his referees spotted their own words being reused. Research institutions are often shocked to hear of such tactics, but act decisively when told, says Williams. "One said they would sack a postdoc scientist if it happened again," he says.

Most culprits are people whose first language is not English, says Williams. But he adds that the trend could change with the meteoric rise in science publishing in China. Could writers whose first language is not Mandarin begin lifting phrases, too? "I would not be surprised," Williams says.


  01/04/2007. New Scientist Magazine.