Research self-plagiarism rife in Russia

About one in 20 recent academic papers is a duplicate, with some articles being recycled as many as 27 times in different publications

February 3, 2022
Source: istock

About one in 20 papers published recently in Russian journals is an exact or near duplicate of an existing article, with some pieces reproduced as many as 27 times across different publications, according to a study.

While the problem of plagiarism in Russian academic papers is well known, having resulted in hundreds of retractions in recent years, an investigation reveals that a different form of text recycling – self-plagiarism – may also be rife.

According to a Journal of Informetrics paper that analysed 3.8 million scientific articles in Russian-language publications, about 3.9 per cent of papers published between 2000 and 2019 had been published again in another outlet, usually by an author linked to the original article.

Overall, 70,406 papers were identified as duplicates – having a text overlap of at least two-thirds with another paper – of which more than 5,000 appeared three or more times. In several cases, papers were republished on more than 20 occasions, with one article appearing 27 times in different formats.

Yury Chekhovich, chief executive of the Moscow-based anti-plagiarism checking company Antiplagiat, who undertook the research with his colleague Andrey Khazov, told Times Higher Education that the analysis was important because it exposed the extent of a “very special kind of ethical violation”.

“We do believe that the number of detected cases found is unprecedented,” said Dr Chekhovich, who explained that similar studies had identified far lower rates of duplication.

The study identified a drop-off in duplicated papers in recent years following a sharp rise in the number of cases between 2006 and 2016 – a year in which almost 5 per cent of all published papers were duplicated.

In some cases, authors republished papers from years earlier, but often the article was published in different outlets in the same year as a result of the “purposeful sending of new manuscripts to two or more journals”, the study explains.

“Some authors justify the simultaneous submission of a manuscript to several journals in terms of the desire to increase the chances of publication,” it says, adding that “journals are poorly protected from well-prepared attempts to publish a manuscript more than once”.

To prevent a practice that is “inherently forbidden”, all detected cases of duplication “should be investigated by experts – better [still] by the journals themselves – and retracted” when wrongdoing is found, Dr Chekhovich said.


Print headline: Self-plagiarism in research is rife in Russia

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