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Plagiarism in research: a survey of African medical journals

Rohwer, Anke, Wager, Elizabeth, Young, Taryn and Garner, Paul ORCID: (2018) 'Plagiarism in research: a survey of African medical journals'. BMJ Open, Vol 8, Issue 11, e024777.

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To examine whether regional biomedical journals in Africa had policies on plagiarism and procedures to detect it; and to measure the extent of plagiarism in their original research articles and reviews.

Cross sectional survey.
We selected journals with an editor-in-chief in Africa, a publisher based in a low or middle income country and with author guidelines in English, and systematically searched the African Journals Online database. From each of the 100 journals identified, we randomly selected five original research articles or reviews published in 2016.

For included journals, we examined the presence of plagiarism policies and whether they referred to text matching software. We submitted articles to Turnitin and measured the extent of plagiarism (copying of someone else's work) or redundancy (copying of one's own work) against a set of criteria we had developed and piloted.

Of the 100 journals, 26 had a policy on plagiarism and 16 referred to text matching software. Of 495 articles, 313 (63%; 95% CI 58 to 68) had evidence of plagiarism: 17% (83) had at least four linked copied or more than six individual copied sentences; 19% (96) had three to six copied sentences; and the remainder had one or two copied sentences. Plagiarism was more common in the introduction and discussion, and uncommon in the results.

Plagiarism is common in biomedical research articles and reviews published in Africa. While wholesale plagiarism was uncommon, moderate text plagiarism was extensive. This could rapidly be eliminated if journal editors implemented screening strategies, including text matching software.

Item Type: Article
Subjects: W General Medicine. Health Professions > W 21 Medicine as a profession.
W General Medicine. Health Professions > W 26.5 Informatics. Health informatics
W General Medicine. Health Professions > Professional practice > W88 Administrative work. Teaching. Research
WA Public Health > Health Administration and Organization > WA 590 Health education, Health communication
Faculty: Department: Clinical Sciences & International Health > Clinical Sciences Department
Digital Object Identifer (DOI):
Depositing User: Stacy Murtagh
Date Deposited: 15 Nov 2018 15:49
Last Modified: 06 Sep 2019 10:16


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