Re: [visionlist] Plagiarism checks in Empirical Manuscripts

Dear Tom,

Surely, wild copy/paste sprees like the one you mention are undesirable from the point of view of readers and editors. 

However, I disagree that editorial policing is the only – or even an adequate – way to deal with the two potential problems you mention. They only occur if hiring committees and those evaluating evidence count papers instead of reading them. Wherever that is is the case, _that’s_ the problem. Imo, we shouldn’t choose editorial practices to accommodate it. 



2017-07-11 10:53 GMT+01:00 Tom Wallis :

Hi all,

I’m sympathetic to Peter’s desire to avoid “busywork” in re-writing parts of introductions, and of course it’s pointless to re-write standard methods (as in Malte’s original comment). However, I don’t think the guidelines against self-plagarism are so easily dismissed (“I can’t steal from myself”). 

In my mind they exist to reduce the risk of CV-padding by re-use or “salami-slicing” research work into multiple outputs. Further to Jim’s comment, this CV-padding via (self-)plagiarism is by no means limited to students at unknown universities trying to get ahead – see for example the recent highly-publicised implosion of Brian Wansink’s Cornell Food and Brand Lab (detailed here: Wansink’s work includes numerous cases of blatant self-plagiarism, both in text (some articles containing up to 50% of the same text) and in data duplication. Not only does this practice disadvantage those scientists who don’t engage in this practice (“candidate A has many more papers than candidate B!”), it also could create a false impression of the empirical support for some theory or guideline (“over 50 studies show that X does Y!”). Without guidelines against self-plagarism, there would be no way to explicitly police these practices.

While I think it’s important that these guidelines exist, I agree with others that they (and automated plagiarism detection software) should be applied with sufficient editorial common sense. Materials and Methods, and a paragraph in the introduction (with appropriate citation) seem fine, when the bulk of the paper presents new results and ideas.



Thomas Wallis, PhD

Project Leader, SFB 1233 Robust Vision

AG Bethge 

Center for Integrative Neuroscience

Eberhard Karls Universität Tübingen

Otfried-Müller-Str 25

72076 Tübingen


On Tue, Jul 11, 2017 at 3:31 AM, Jim Ferwerda wrote:

I too had a “funny” experience relative to journal plagiarism. 

A few years back I wanted to look at a paper I had presented/published several years before at Human Vision and Electronic Imaging. Rather than dig through my computer, I googled the paper title: “Three Varieties of Realism in Computer Graphics”. The paper came up as the first hit, but several hits down was a paper titled “Hi-Fidelity Computer Graphics” published in the “International Journal of Innovative Research in Technology”. Since I was intrigued, I downloaded the paper and started reading. After a page of introduction, the text became strangely familiar. The “authors” of the paper had cut-and-pasted four pages of the eight page document directly from my paper!

After doing some further investigation I found that the three authors (M.S. students at an obscure Indian university) had done this several times, “borrowing” from different published papers and switching up the author order, with the goal of padding their CV’s. Some further reading revealed that sadly, this is a widespread practice in some countries/fields, and that there are many “pay-to-play” journals that will publish whatever they are given as long as the publishing fee is received.

So who knows, you, like me, might have more co-authors than you think!



p.s. In case you’re interested in padding /your/ CV the website for the journal is

Submission is easy. Make sure to have your credit card ready!

On Jul 10, 2017, at 3:46 PM, Robert Sekuler wrote:

I had a funny experience being flagged for possible plagiarism.  

The journal’s very thorough plagiarism detector reported that a high proportion of my submission was duplicated from a document that it found on the web.  

No surprise, though. Turns out the duplicated article was an early draft of the submitted article that I had posted on my website. And the editor immediately understood what had happened. No harm done.

Bob sekuler 


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