How do journals deal with plagiarism in submitted manuscripts?
Plagiarism is a frequent occurrence in the academic publishing industry. The pressure to ‘publish or perish’ often leads to researchers indulging in unethical practices. In such cases it is the responsibility of the journal to detect and prevent the publication of plagiarized content. Journals can detect plagiarism either at the editorial screening stage or the peer-review stage. In cases where plagiarism is detected, the Committee of Publication Ethics (COPE) has specified the following guidelines for journals depending on the severity of the situation:
- A letter stating the situation, explaining the problem and asking for an explanation needs to be sent out to the author only in cases where the plagiarism appears to be unintentional.
- In cases where the plagiarism appears to be intentional, a strong letter reprimanding the author for the misconduct and also a warning against such conduct in future needs to be sent.
- A formal letter to notify the author’s head of institution about the misconduct needs to be sent.
- A formal letter to notify the funding body which funded the research about the misconduct needs to be sent.
- A public notice about the misconduct needs to the published.
- An editorial article giving a detailed description of the misconduct needs to be published.
- A period needs to be decided, wherein any other publication from the author, group of authors or the institution will not be accepted.
- In cases where the article has already been published, a formal withdrawal or retraction of the article needs to be undertaken. This would involve notifying other editors and indexing authorities.
- Also, if available and authoritarian organization such as the General Medical Council needs to be informed of this misconduct, so that it is effectively investigated and required action is taken.
These are however general policies described by COPE and every journal may have their own specific policies to deal with such issues. In either case, it is best to take all the possible preventive measures to ensure that your manuscript is plagiarism free. Click here to avail of Enago’s plagiarism check service.