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Good Practices

An extra dose of plagiarism

The journal Nanomaterials has adopted a new editorial policy and now performs checks to detect indications of plagiarism before sending manuscripts submitted for publication to the reviewers. This step is an attempt to prevent cases like that of a study about nanoparticle toxicity published in the periodical in 2014, signed by researchers from the University of Hokkaido, in Japan. The article was retracted after an investigation concluded that 56% of its content was not original.

Software detected that 46% of the text could be described as self-plagiarism, which is the repetition of passages present in earlier manuscripts by the same author. An additional 10% of the content was classified as plagiarized, i.e., it appropriated the ideas of others. It was also found that four of the six images in the article had been copied from other papers, although the authors had correctly attributed them to their sources.

Thomas Nann, editor-in-chief of Nanomaterials, expressed regret that he had not discovered the problem sooner. “The authors reviewed the manuscript and an editor accepted it. Given the high number of submissions that periodicals receive, it can happen that plagiarism is not discovered until after the work is published,” says Nann, apologetically.