OAKLAND, Calif., April 23, 2013 /PRNewswire/ -- A survey probing the concerns of editors and editorial staff at scholarly publications indicates that ethics issues top the list of their most pressing challenges. The survey results will be discussed at a live webcast this Thursday, April 25. Registration for the webcast is open.
The study, conducted by iThenticate, the leading provider of professional plagiarism detection technology, queried 120 journal editors and staffers about what they believed to be the top challenges facing scholarly publishing as a whole, as well as what they perceived as the greatest threats to the integrity of the field.
Five issues surfaced as the leading concerns in the eyes of editors, many of them ethics-related: plagiarism, pressure to publish, poorly designed studies, technological advances that simplify image or data falsification and conflicts of interest between researchers and industry.
Among those, plagiarism and misconduct was ranked as the most worrisome, with 82 percent of respondents classifying it as a "serious" or "very serious" problem. 38 percent of editorial staffers classified the plagiarism they encounter as intentional, and 29 percent said most plagiarism is "blatant", involving large portions of unattributed text.
"Pressure to publish" followed closely, with 58 percent of those surveyed deeming it "serious" and 20 percent "very serious." Close to half of respondents believed that "poorly designed studies" (52 percent) and "conflicts of interest" (47 percent) were serious challenges, and "image/data falsification" was deemed serious by 38 percent of respondents.
When asked to identify specific concerns with researchers' practices, once again, plagiarism led the list. 60 percent of editors and editorial staff stated plagiarism as a top worry. 54 percent cited "focusing on number of publications rather than making advances" as a lead concern, and 53 percent honed in on "publishing the bare minimum" as a major issue. "Splitting studies across publications" garnered 38 percent of respondents' concern.
"These results reinforce that among the many challenges scholarly editors and editorial staff are facing, plagiarism, misconduct and the pressure to publish are not only highly pervasive, but send ripple effects throughout the academic research and publishing processes," said Chris Cross, general manager of iThenticate.
The survey also tapped editorial staffers' insights on preventing ethical issues, plagiarism in particular. While plagiarism detection software ranked highly as a prevention method, a significant faction of respondents favored more aggressive or punitive measures to deter ethical breaches.
Among prevention techniques touted as "effective" or "very effective", plagiarism detection software was the clear leader, with 88 percent of respondents suggesting its use. 62 percent found that publicizing their journal's use of plagiarism detection software was a deterrent, and half of respondents advocated directly advising submitting authors on how to avoid plagiarism.
Asked about the efficacy of exposing plagiarizers, 47 percent of respondents believed maintaining a blacklist of authors who have been associated with plagiarism would deter others from submitting unoriginal work. 63 percent stated that informing an author's employer when plagiarism is found would be an effective prevention method.
"There are many complex ethical issues in journal publishing now—from plagiarism to pressure to publish—and everyone involved in academic work must be aware of and up to date with them," said Dr. Virginia Barbour, chair of the Committee on Publication Ethics (COPE).
The full study results will be discussed at a live webcast on April 25 featuring Dr. Virginia Barbour and Dr. David Moher, senior scientist in the Clinical Epidemiology Program, Ottawa Hospital Research Institute (OHRI), and Associate Professor, Department of Epidemiology and Community Medicine, University of Ottawa. More information about the webcast and registration are available at www.ithenticate.com.
iThenticate is the leading provider of professional plagiarism detection and prevention technology used worldwide by scholarly publishers and research departments to ensure the originality of written work before publication. iThenticate helps editors, authors and researchers prevent misconduct by comparing manuscripts against its database of over 34 billion web pages and 129 million content items, including 36 million published works from over 465 scholarly publisher participants of CrossCheck, a service offered by CrossRef® and powered by iThenticate software. iThenticate is developed by Turnitin, the leader in plagiarism and originality checking for educational institutions worldwide. The company is headquartered in Oakland, California with international offices in Newcastle, United Kingdom. www.ithenticate.com