Thursday, November 10, 2005

Nature says 'Stop copying!'

A recent issue of the premier science journal Nature takes a very strong stand against plagiarism in an editorial.

Human nature hasn't changed recently, but reusing with the intent to deceive seems to be on the rise, both in the literature and in grant proposals. The replacement of pen and paper with software makes it far easier to slip in large sections of text. Internet connectivity, online repositories and sophisticated search tools provide almost irresistible accessibility to the polished thoughts of others.

Students trained today have grown up in an environment where access is taken for granted and attribution only loosely enforced. So they need more rigorous instruction than their predecessors regarding the ethical standards expected of them. Mentors must counter the ever-rising promotion and funding pressures that reward prolific publication rather than support creative quests.


  1. Anonymous said...

    Actually, it cuts both ways. If search engines and the Internet have made it easy to plagiarize stuff, it has become equally easy to spot the plagiarism.
    In fact, I would go so far as to suggest that before the Internet it would have been far more difficult to detect plagiarism than it is now.
    Of course, I speak in a non-academic context, where the review process may be less stringent.

  2. Abi said...

    You are right, Ashok. Even in an academic context, these newer technologies are being put to use. I did post a link sometime ago, but it is all buried deep in the archives. The article that I linked to said something to the effect that more and more of the academic research publishers are resorting to the use of plagiarism detectors.