The danger of plagiarism and predatory media for scientific communication
- Scientific Culture and Innovation Unit
- February 1st, 2019
María Francisca Abad, director of the Department of History of Science and Documentation at the Faculty of Medicine of the University of Valencia, has analysed the threat posed for practical scientific communication by plagiarism, recycling, appropriation or cloning, among others. Also the presence of predatory media (those characterised to publish articles without a real process of selection and evaluation of the content).
The article, published in the journal Anales de Pediatría, of the Asociación Española de Pediatría, reviews the various types of plagiarism that exist, such as copying and appropriating fragments of an author’s work without being cited properly, cloning –sending another person’s work as if it were one’s own– or recycling –taking on an earlier work, without citing it properly.
The researcher also poses as plagiarism the appropriation of an alien work with the consent of the authors, as in the purchase and sale of scientific works, in the tandem between phantom authors and honorary authors, and the cases of gift authorship where people who signed a work did not intervene in it.
The director of the Department of History of Science and Documentation points out that this investigation was commissioned by the magazine that published it, since it had detected that articles published in several Spanish paediatric publications had been completely plagiarised and published in what are called predatory magazines. This practice infringes upon intellectual property and also upon the ethics of scientific communication.
In the context of plagiarism, the article focuses on the role of predatory magazines. These, according to Abad, “are very harmful to science”, since by publishing without examining or evaluating the proposals they receive they are committing a scientific fraud. “They are neither committed in any way with scientific progress nor with the dissemination of knowledge, but only seek to obtain benefits from publishing. They pose a threat to the integrity of the scientific system, since they compromise the quality of what is published”, said the researcher.
The harmful effect can be enormous, according to Abad, if these practices are perpetuated. First of all, because they impair the public and scientific image of the open access format of publications –a business model based on the payment of fees for publication, rather than the payment of fees for reading–, a model chosen by several magazines with high quality and rigor.
Secondly, because a large part of the research staff that starts in this field is unaware of how predatory media operate, and they decide to publish their investigations in this type of media. And third, because plagiarism, cloning or recycling, and publishing in predatory journals shows an alarming deontological deficiency and a system in which it predominates to achieve the goals instead of doing it ethically.
The director of the Department of History of Science and Documentation of the University of Valencia argues that one of the causes that favours this phenomenon is the system of evaluation of the current research performance, which is “the amount of work published, in front of its intrinsic quality or its social, health or economic value”, he says.
Also, the teacher’s publication reports that the scientific community should be aware of the existence of this type of publication, and take measures that ensure that no researcher can obtain professional recognition for a curriculum in which articles published in predatory magazines are included.
Abad, M. F. (2019). «El plagio y las revistas depredadoras como amenaza a la integridad científica». Anales De Pediatría, 90(1). doi: https://doi.org/10.1016/j.anpedi.2018.11.003.