- According to the relevant standards, plagiarism is committed when an author uses another work (usually the work of another author) without authorisation, credit or acknowledgement. Plagiarism takes different forms, from literal copying to paraphrasing the work of others.
- Literal copying: Literal copying consists of reproducing a work word for word, in whole or in part, without permission and without mentioning the original source. Literal copying is obvious plagiarism and is easily detected by comparing the articles in question.
- Substantial copying: Substantial copying consists of reproducing a substantial part of a work without permission or acknowledgement of the original source. To determine what is “substantial”, both the quantity and the quality of the content copied are relevant. Quality refers to the relative value of the copied text in relation to the work as a whole. Where the essence of a work has been reproduced, even if it is only a small part of the original work, plagiarism may have occurred. For example, a relatively short extract from a text, book or article may be instantly recognisable and may constitute a substantial part of it.
- Paraphrasing: Copying can take place without reproducing the exact words used in the original work, i.e. without literal or substantial copying. This type of copying is called paraphrasing and can be the most difficult type of plagiarism to detect. To determine whether an unacceptable paraphrase has taken place, Akofena applies a test similar to that for substantial copying. This involves looking at the quantity and quality of what has been taken and also whether the second author has benefited from the skill and judgement of the first author. If it seems clear, on the balance of probabilities, that the second author has taken without permission or acknowledgement all or a substantial part of the original work and used it to create a second work, albeit expressed in different words, then such use amounts to plagiarism.
BEWARE OF PLAGIARISM!
Plagiarism also consists of reproducing a text, part of a text, any literary or graphic production, or paraphrasing a text without indicating the author. It contravenes the rules of academic ethics and constitutes fraud in graded work. Plagiarism is also an infringement of copyright and intellectual property rights, and may be treated as an offence of counterfeiting. When the author of an academic work feels the need to rely on another text, he or she must do so in accordance with the following rules:
When an extract, even a short one, is quoted exactly, it must be placed between inverted commas (or indented and in slightly smaller type if the text is more than a few lines long) and the reference (name of author and source) must be given; the extract quoted must be short. When the text or a passage from the text is paraphrased or summarised, the reference (name of author and source) must be given.
Plagiarism is also an infringement of copyright and intellectual property rights, and may be treated as a counterfeiting offence. It casts doubt on the qualities expected of contributors (critical thinking, creativity, honesty, ability to develop a personal argument and transcribe it, etc.) and is considered a serious breach of scientific ethics. Plagiarism brings discredit not only on the offending work but also on the plagiarist’s work as a whole, and hence on his or her skills.
The complainant must be informed that the matter can only be investigated if, at some point, Akofena magazine informs the corresponding author (or the subject of the complaint). The first step should be a simple comparison of the (two) relevant texts. This may be a simple side-by-side comparison by the Akofena Review for simpler forms of plagiarism or a more considered analysis if paraphrases or types of ‘self-plagiarism’ are alleged.
What if the editor reasonably determines that there is a significant overlap in the text?
A confidential letter summarising the complaint is sent to the author who is the subject of the complaint. In addition, Akofena may anonymously involve peer reviewers, members of the editorial board or experts in the field concerned, using standard peer review procedures, to review texts (especially if the allegation is a more complex form of plagiarism). Legal review may be appropriate if the complainant or their publisher alleges copyright infringement.
What if the author of the complaint accepts the complainant's position?
There may still be disagreement about the appropriate description. It is normally sufficient simply to state that the article complained of included substantial parts copied without attribution from a previous article. Although the complainant may feel that a stronger statement would be more appropriate – and if in fact the offender was “simply passing off” someone else’s material as their own, a stronger statement would probably be appropriate, but with legal scrutiny for defamation. Finally, the editor may need to make a judgement on the appropriate language for the statement, if there is no consensus, and should do so in consultation with the administration of Akofena magazine.
What happens if the author of the complaint rejects the complainant's position?
- Akofena will examine whether the author’s explanation is reasonable, then inform the complainant of the author’s explanations and ask for justified comments.
- Akofena shall consider whether the author’s explanation is reasonable, then inform the complainant of the author’s explanations and request substantiated comments.
Akofena shall consider whether the author’s explanation is reasonable, then inform the complainant of the author’s explanations and request substantiated comments.
- The editor-in-chief of the magazine will take the appropriate decision as to whether the complaint is well-founded.
Akofena will examine whether the author’s explanation is reasonable, then inform the complainant of the author’s explanations and ask for justified comments.
The magazine’s editor-in-chief will decide whether the complaint is well-founded.
As with complaints about paternity or fraud, what happens if an institution is contacted and responds negatively or does not reply?
This should be reviewed with the complainant (perhaps the complainant is better placed to lodge his or her complaint directly with the institution).
What if a funding body is involved?
To determine this, Akofena magazine must examine the disclosure statements for the offending article. If this is the case, it may consider contacting the agency.