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Tuesday, 24 June 2008

Elsevier joins battle against plagiarism

It is probably a coincidence that the press release Elsevier to contribute 9 million articles to CrossCheck comes hot on the heels of Raj Persaud's unfortunate run in over plagiarism. Crosscheck describes itself as a "new initiative from CrossRef to help the scholarly publishers verify the originality of submitted manuscripts".

In its press release, Elsevier says that it "is now in the process of integrating CrossCheck into its editorial workflows as part of its efforts to support the peer review process and assist the scientific community in all aspects of publishing ethics". A whole raft of other publishing houses have also taken part in the beta stage of CrossRef, including Nature, JAMA, the BMJ and the IEEE.

One of the excuses that Persaud put forward was that the people editing his work had been careless and had "dropped" all his acknowledgements. Clearly, the General Medical Council didn't buy this explanation.

It is unlikely that CrossCheck would have picked up this particular spate of plagiarism. Book editors are not in the same club as the learned journals. And how can editors check articles that are a million miles from the peer reviewed literature?

Anyone who has written the same story for more than one publication – a perfectly acceptable tactic for freelance writers, so long as their editors know what they are up to – knows that you have to work at not plagiarising yourself, let alone other writers. It would be interesting to see if something like CrossCheck can handle that sort of thing.