Plagiarism in the “Journal of Sports Medicine & Doping Studies”

Journal of Sports Medicine & Doping Studies (JSMDS)

Journal of Doping

The editor of the Journal of Sports Medicine & Doping Studies, Senthil P. Kumar, wrote an editorial in the journal that contains passages that appeared in three previously-published articles.

Kumar, who is associate professor in the Dept. of Physiotherapy at the Kasturba Medical College in Mangalore, India, editorialized about the advent of open access, commenting on its strengths and weaknesses, and its past and future.

Unfortunately, Kumar doesn’t seem to understand that open access is not the same as open season on using others’ work.

Here is the citation to his editorial:

Kumar, Senthil P. (2012). “Open Access Publishing: Opening the Access versus Accessing the Open: A Multidimensional Perspective.” Sports Medicine & Doping Studies 2.4:1-3.

The above article contains passages taken verbatim from the following three articles [Note: the following three articles do not contain plagiarism; they are the victims of plagiarism].

Laakso M., Welling P., Bukvova H., Nyman L., Björk B-C., & Hedlund T. (2011) “The development of open access journal publishing from 1993 to 2009.” PLoS ONE. 2011;6:e20961. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0020961.

Albert, K. M. (2006). Open access: implications for scholarly publishing and medical libraries. Journal of The Medical Library Association, 94(3), 253-262.

Schroter Sara, & Tite Leanne. (2006). “Open access publishing and author-pays business models: a survey of authors’ knowledge and perceptions.” Journal of the Royal Society of Medicine 99:141–148.

Evidence

I have scanned the entire editorial and the pertinent sections of the three articles. The copied passages are numbered P-1 through P-6 on the unoriginal editorial, and the original passages are numbered O-1 through O-6 on the original articles. The entire PDF is available  here.

I am becoming increasingly aware of plagiarism occurring in the journals published by organizations on my list of predatory publishers.

Identifying Plagiarism

I tried using plagiarism detection software to determine whether publishers’ articles I was examining contained plagiarism, but it didn’t work. The best programs had already indexed the articles I was checking, so they came back as 100% positive because they were already in the database.

Consequently, I have developed a manual method for detecting plagiarism in predatory journals. For articles that are poorly copyedited and that are clearly written by a non-native speaker of English, I read through the article and look for unattributed text that suddenly becomes grammatical and idiomatic. Then I search phrases of the text (i.e., in quotation marks) in Google.

I frequently find plagiarism in the journals on my predatory lists using this method. Many of the newest scholarly open-access publishers come from India, and I am concerned and surprised at the amount of plagiarism I see coming from that country. What is going on?

15 Responses to Plagiarism in the “Journal of Sports Medicine & Doping Studies”

  1. Yurii says:

    This is a widespread problem with many articles. Fortunately many of them got caught in a pre-submission stage. I had cases where 70-90% of Introduction/discussion were copied verbatim from several sources. It is mind-blowing, frankly. Considering how easy it is to feed whole manuscript to google I am not sure what these people think they are doing.

  2. Guido says:

    Thank you for all your efforts in highlighting the problems in several of the new open access journals! I think you are doing the academic world (and the open access movement) a great service by trying to separate the wheat from the chaff.

    Regarding this plagiarism case, I looked at the PDF and while you have indeed found clear evidence of plagiarism, it seems to concern mostly the (well known?) definitions of open-access related terms. I would be inclined to say that this is plagiarism of a less serious kind than copying original research or thinking. Passages P4 and P6 do not seem to be plagiarized because the sources from which they are taken are cited. This is sloppy referencing (quoting without quotation marks), not plagiarism. P5 contains plagiarism, but only in the first sentence (the rest is from the source cited at the end of the paragraph).

  3. Yurii says:

    Guido, the standards are somewhat different. Direct text copying even with proper attribution is considered plagiarism. Even in humanities where direct quotation is (much) more common such a borrowing will be frowned upon and the “authors” will be requested to make corrections. In all STEM fields direct quotation is used rarely and P4-P6 will be considered plagiarism by most editors.

    • Guido says:

      Yurii, you are indeed right. According to Brian Martin, “The most obvious and provable plagiarism occurs when someone copies phrases or passages out of a published work without using quotation marks, without acknowledging the source, or both” (http://www.uow.edu.au/~bmartin/pubs/94jie.html). Although citing the source gives some credit to the original author, quoting without quotation marks is still misleading.

  4. Senthil P Kumar says:

    Dear all,
    I am the corresponding author of the editorial under discussion.
    First of all, I apologize for my ignorance on this issue- which I assumed is not plagiarism since I cited the original works with attribution from Creative Commons attribution license. I realized that the verbatim copying is different from reproducing the text with attribution under open access policy.
    Second, I have also requested the Editor of the Journal to look into this issue, and decide as appropriate and if felt as plagiarized, I had requested for withdrawing my editorial (and subsequent retraction of the article) if decided so, by the board.
    I declare and hope that all scientists here are for the true spirit of science, to contribute to better knowledge, and please note that “(Major portion of the following content was adapted from [5,6] under open access policy, unless otherwise cited):” sentence precedes the text under debate; where 5 was Laakso M, Welling P, Bukvova H, Nyman L, Björk BC, et al (2011) The development of open access journal publishing from 1993 to 2009. PLoS One 6: e20961. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/21695139 and 6 was Albert KM (2006) Open access: implications for scholarly publishing and medical libraries. J Med Libr Assoc 94:253-62. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/16888657.
    With deep concern and regards,
    Senthil P Kumar
    P.S: I request the author of this post to communicate to the JSMDS editor as an appropriate measure (as per COPE guidelines) and I thank the author for bringing this into my notice.

    • Dr. Kumar:

      I believe that someone who accepts the position as editor of a journal that purports to be a peer-reviewed, international journal ought to know about proper attribution of sources and how to avoid plagiarism.

      Adding a statement to the plagiarized article such as you suggest, “Major portion of the following content was adapted … ” is a cop-out. The article should be retracted, and you should resign your position with the journal.

      Jeffrey Beall

  5. Kavitha Raja says:

    I am a professor from India and I teach and warn my students endlessly about plagiarism. In fact I use the same method as Mr Beall. I read through material and pick out sentences/ paragraphs that have a different style. It is easy because the way Indians use English and the way native speakers use the language are distinct. That, perhaps is one of the reasons that plagiarism in writings of non- native speakers is picked out more often. It is more difficult to pick out plagiarism in what Americans/ British or Australians write. This does not mean that non- native speakers are more prone to plagiarise. It just means that they are caught more often! I have an archive of plagiarised paragraphs in articles that I use for teaching. Many are from English speaking countries written by authors with European sounding names.
    There are some aspects of plagiarism that I would like to point out. Plagiarism perhaps is more strictly defined in America than elsewhere because of the cultural emphasis on the individual. In Eastern and specifically Indian culture, the philosophy that everything belongs to everyone creeps into writing as well. So when I talk about plagiarism, my students take a long time to understand the concept. It is after all just words and words belong to everyone.
    Another philosophical argument would be that no idea can really be claimed by any one individual or group of persons. Ideas come from previous ideas and so on. Repeating what someone you respect said/ your teachers words is considered to be complimentary in Indian culture. So to suddenly understand this respectful act in the perspective of a perjury is very difficult. This shift will come over time.
    The language restrictions faced by non native speakers has been commented upon multiple times and I will not revisit that.

    While I do not condone plagiarism, and while I accept that all authors who engage in it from India are not naive, I believe that influential persons in the West must understand the cultural background before engaging in racial/ national profiling. This tendency is bound to affect foreign born academicians/ students in their adopted countries negatively. This will of course also hinder publication of quality work from non -English speaking countries in good English language journals. The loss to academia from such backlash can be imagined, as no one can argue that academic excellence knows no boundaries/ language. Neither does honesty!

    • Guido says:

      Thanks, this is useful information! I completely agree that we in the West should not expect people from India and other emerging economies to follow exactly the same procedures in scientific publishing as we do, at least not right away. If we try to understand each other’s culture we can learn from each other, but if we pass judgment too quickly it will lead to frustration and conflict.

  6. Dr V Anantharaman says:

    The following link from Committee on Publication Ethics (COPE) flowchart on suspected plagiarism in a published article tells us the same, but not about retraction or resigning from post of editorial board member for a minor ?plagiarism (verbatim copying without referencing which is not even the case here):

    http://publicationethics.org/files/u2/02B_Plagiarism_Published.pdf

    • Vaishali Sisodia says:

      I agree with Dr V Anantharaman on COPE and I sincerely feel that reaction to any article should be in a scientific manner provided in an ethically dignified way. Otherwise it gives an impression that only some particular author(s) from a region or population are being targeted, especially when a country’s name is mentioned. It’s better to avoid such unprofessional acts in future. J Beall should apologize for his error and he should close this post instead.

      • The only unprofessional act here was the act of plagiarism. The reaction was scientific: I documented the case of plagiarism using pictorial evidence. It is undeniable. What’s unprofessional is the attempt to cover it up and to frame it in a nationalistic way. The person who committed the plagiarism needs to be held accountable as an individual.

  7. Dr C B Srinivasan says:

    An example of self-plagiarism by an Author from a developed country, not even citing his previous three works. The verbatim copied text is highlighted in all three papers in BIG medical journals. I request Jeffrey to look into the link below and take prompt action:

    https://www.box.com/s/klhxecvkrmzz2gydxg4e

    • No. If you think I am going to download a 17.5 MB zipped file to my computer, then you are mistaken. Post the documents to the Internet as a webpage like I did.

    • Guido says:

      I looked at the documents and I think the recycling of text is so extensive (starting with the very first sentence) that it is not absolutely necessary to see the markings. So if it’s difficult to upload the documents to a website it might be sufficient if Dr. Srinivasan provides links to the three papers on the publishers’ websites. Interestingly, the papers are about the impact factor, and are authored by the person who created it. Furthermore, two of the journals seem to be open access journals.

  8. Dr. Andy says:

    Dear Jeffrey Beall,

    I would like to congratulate for your effort in creating such an excellent blog on academic journals. I represent editorial board of a publisher and we have following policy on plagiarism:

    – All articles are checked with Turnitin (now using Plagscan) before sending for review. If total similarity index of article less than 25% & no single source having more than 5% of similarity then we accept it for review.

    – In other cases, it is sent for modification to author. And the author is advised to put quotations, paraphrase matching texts and mention required sources.

    And our past statistics shows in total 25% to 30% of submitted manuscripts are plagiarized. I would like to request please give your valuable advice on our plagiarism policy..

    Thank you.

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