Monday, March 30, 2009

Plagarism in Science (in general)

Recently, my PI was given a paper to review from a Journal that shall remain nameless. Not an American journal. Lots of non-American Journals are top notch and publish awesome work.

This paper for review is loaded with typos and the sentence structure makes absolutely no sense whatsoever. I understand that the English language is difficult and mistakes will be made, especially when trying to write science English, it's even more tough just because writing science is that much more tough. Usually I can decipher what someone is trying to write even if the sentence is awkward. This paper for review I could not figure out. The sentences made absolutely no sense and I could not figure out anything to make them make sense. I reread and reread and it was much more FUBAR than awkward. I discussed this is a colleague. He looked it over. Some of the sentences were really not too bad, I was just missing them through all the muck. Well, my colleague thought it was strange that there were good sentences in the muck and so he googled the good sentences. Lo and behold: the good sentences were copied word for word from other papers.

Now, as I said before, the English language is tough. I get that. This is why everyone needs to have a native English speaker at their disposal to proofread (anyone want to hire me to proofread?!?!). Reviewers that see lots of typos will just think you are sloppy and that your research must therefore also be sloppy. Not a good way to get your paper accepted. But to plagarize in the land of google, you're out of your darn mind. Period. You can type whole sentences into google and it will find them. I'm really astounded that this author thought that no one would figure out that he plagarized. The data is therefore perceived by the reviewer as completely unreliable.

The moral of my story: Google is the tool that people will use to find out if one plagarized. Google will give the plagarist away. Don't plagarize. Proofread. Proofread. Proofread.

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