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ه‍.ش. ۱۳۸۹ خرداد ۱۳, پنجشنبه

Anti-Plagiarism Counter Measures: A Lighter Note

My tenure as the Director of Information Studies Lab at University of Tehran is drawing to a close. I can just imagine the sigh of relief by the Accounts, as they no longer need to worry about how to finance my impulsive purchases. The primary purpose of the lab was to make the pursuit of science as a fun activity for the students. In early days, students tip toed around the Lab, and were afraid to break something. Nowadays they Oh-So-Politely (and at times not so politely) demand why the lab lacks a certain piece of equipment. I call that an improvement.

But nothing compares with the students trust which at times was the only thing that kept the lab going...especially in the area of comparative plagiarism research. A month ago I was worried about a new type of plagiarism which borders on Fraud. I call it stealth plagiarism. The issue cropped up during an investigation concerning the efficiency of plagiarism detection software for farsi articles. It seems that if a plagiarist-artist (and I use the term advisedly) exercises patience, there are a slew of techniques that would make plagiarizing other works nearly difficult for plagiarism detection softwares to identify.

Imagine you wish to plagiarize article A. You take Article A... and translate it into Persian. You change the reference stylistics. Let us call this article Ap. You then take this article and retranslate it back into English (using an unsuspecting, cash-strapped translator). You then revise the stylistics using a word processor such as MS Word 2007. Here you need to know what anti plagiarism software the journal you intend to submit your article to is using. Apparently most of these softwares focus on patterns of similarities. Each has its own footprint. At this stage the revised article (which we call article Ae) would be reformatted to defeat this including the punctuation marks and paragraphing revisions. If done correctly, in most cases it is possible to push plagiarism detection efficiency down to 30%. This could mean a reasonable doubt that could lead to publication.

The sheer effort involved is more than what one spends on writing an article from scratch. However if the perpetrator is involved in Salami Slicing plagiarism or paper mill operation, it could make paper recycling harder to detect. I take off my hat before an evil genius who thought up this. While this is more closely akin to Fraud but within the framework of our research into plagiarism it could be termed as Stealth Plagiarism.

Please do share your thoughts with me on this subject...Do you think that there is a market for anti-Plagiarism counter measures... How about Anti-plagiariasm Counter Counter Measures?


Wishing you all the best

Nader Naghshineh :)


P.S. I apologize in advance to Doctor Ghodsi... However, in order to increase the chances of our blog being noticed by a wider audience (And Google-bot) from time to time I believe to recap some of the discussions in English