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ResourcesResearch IntegrityJournals’ Plagiarism Detectors May Flag Papers in Error – The Scientist (Diana Kwon | June 2019)

Australasian Human Research Ethics Consultancy Services Pty Ltd (AHRECS)

Journals’ Plagiarism Detectors May Flag Papers in Error – The Scientist (Diana Kwon | June 2019)

 


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One recent case, in which a scientist claims his submitted manuscript was rejected despite a lack of actual plagiarism, highlights the limitations of automated tools.

If the researcher’s claims are true, this case points to an uncomfortable situation: Institutional research misconduct approaches need to be more robust and not rely solely on automated detection tools.

Last week, Jean-François Bonnefon, a behavioral scientist at the French Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique, tweeted that a scientific manuscript he submitted to a journal had been rejected by a bot. The program had flagged his paper for plagiarism, highlighting the methods, references, and authors’ affiliations. “It would have taken 2 [minutes] for a human to realize the bot was acting up,” Bonnefon wrote in one of his tweets. “But there is obviously no human in the loop here.”
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In a massive Twitter thread that followed, several other academics noted having similar experiences.
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“I found [Bonnefon’s] experience quite disconcerting,” Bernd Pulverer, chief editor of The EMBO Journal, writes in an email to The Scientist. “Despite all the AI hype, we are miles from automating such a process.” Plagiarism is a complex issue, he adds, and although tools to identify text duplication are an invaluable resource for routine screening, they should not be used in lieu of a human reviewer.
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