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"Тrauma" Том 17, №1, 2016

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Plagiarism: What is This for Us and in Europe?

Authors: Zazirnyi I.M. - Clinical hospital "Feofania", Kyiv, Ukraine; Kostrub O.O. - Institute of Traumatology and Orthopedics of National Academy of Medical Sciences of Ukraine, Kyiv, Ukraine

Categories: Traumatology and orthopedics

Sections: Specialist manual

print version

The article was published on p. 125-126
Plagiarism in orthopaedic literature: we are surgeons, not novel writers
Mattijs P. Somford, Mishel P.J. van den Bekerom, Jon Karlsson
ESSKA Newsletter, December 2015, p. 20
We are sharing our thoughts and opening the discussion on preventing plagiarism in orthopedic and sports research and their concomitant publications.
This especially focuses on the use of software to detect plagiarism in published articles. We think this concept of identifying plagiarism is not optimal and that changes should be made. We completely agree that plagiarism poses a significant threat to the authenticity of scientific literature and that it is difficult to detect it in submitted articles. In 1872, Walter Bagehot stated that «The propensity of man to imitate what is before him is one of the strongest parts of his nature» (1). Although plagiarism is sometimes considered as theft or stealing, it does not exist in a legal sense. It is important to make the difference with copyright infringement. Plagiarism is defined as the copying or paraphrasing of other people’s work or ideas into your own work without full acknowledgement of these people. This way an author presents work or ideas that are not originally his or hers to start with. The widespread use of computers and the availability of the Internet have made it easier to copy the work of colleagues. We fully agree that copying research ideas or to writing a narrative of systematic review by using the unacknowledged work of colleagues is plagiarism. Double publication of previously published research in another journal is also a form of (self) plagiarism. Publication of an article in the authors’ native language and thereafter in English in an international journal is often not seen as plagiarism. But the writing of the article itself is the way to achieve our goal and this goal is to publish and to share results of our research. When a writer uses the same pen twice to write two different books or a musician makes use of the same guitar for two different songs, nobody perceives this as plagiarism. All definitions of plagiarism consist of the essential words «without attributing those words, ideas, concepts… to their true/original source».
In our opinion, when you write a systematic review, for instance on elbow instability after you have written one on ankle instability, the material and methods section can and should (if the same methods are used) be similar or possibly almost identical. But this article will not pass the plagiarism detection software because the build-up of this section is comparable to the other article. That does not mean that the details of the section are the same. So the authors will have to reorder the sentence to bypass the software. The most likely result will be that the sentence is different but not better. What can be the benefit of that? It is also our opinion that an article with correct referencing after copy/pasting statements from other articles or colleagues should not be labeled as plagiarism. These sentences are often better formulated than when changed by (not native speaking) colleagues. But, the important issue is correct referring and acknowledgement to other researcher’s work. In summary, we are surgeons who publish our research results and because writing is not the goal but just the way we achieve the goal of sharing our research, well-put phrases with referencing or proven concepts of writing should not be banned. This being stated, plagiarism, in our opinion, can only be about the research and not about the writing method or phrase use provided there is correct referencing. We encourage the orthopedic journals to support this theory and to focus on originality and content of research, preventing ghost authorship, copyright infringement, any form of bias or conflict of interest, fabrication or falsification, and ethical issues although we acknowledge that this is an increasingly difficult task.


1. Aronson J.K. Огляд редактора: Плагіаторство — будь ласка, не робіть копій // Br. J. of Clin. Pharmacol. — 2007. — 64. — 403-5.

1. Aronson J.K. Editors’ view: Plagiarism — Please don’t copy // Br. J. of Clin. Pharmacol. — 2007. — 64. — 403-5.

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