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Retraction Watch

Tracking retractions as a window into the scientific process

A new plagiarism euphemism: “language from already published sources without using proper citation methods”

with 12 comments

crestA recent issue of Critical Reviews in Environmental Science and Technology (CREST) adds a new euphemism for plagiarism to our rapidly growing list.

There are two retractions in the issue of the Taylor & Francis journal. One is for “Remediation of Heavy Metal Contaminated Soils: An Overview of Site Remediation Techniques,” by a group from Portugal:

It has been determined that the article “Remediation of Heavy Metal Contaminated Soils: An Overview of Site Remediation Techniques,” by Ana P. G. C. Marques, Ant´onio O. S. S. Rangel, and Paula M. L. Castro that published in the Taylor & Francis journal Critical Reviews in Environmental Science and Technology, 2011, Volume 41, Issue 10, pages 879–914 contains language from already published sources without using proper citation methods.

As a result, the article published in Critical Reviews in Environmental Science and Technology has been retracted and thus should not be cited in the electronic or print version of the journal.

The other is “Impacts of Fluoride in Drinking Water and Role of pH in its Removal Efficiency: A Critical Review,” by a group from India:

The Accepted Manuscript “Impacts of Fluoride in Drinking Water and Role of pH in its Removal Efficiency: A Critical Review,” by S. Satheesh Babu, Sunil Kumar, Pravin Dinkar Nemade, Tarit Roychowdhury has been removed as the manuscript contained language from already published sources without proper citation and credit.

Let’s see, “contains language from already published sources without using proper citation methods” is 11 words. “Plagiarized” is one.

Hat tip: Jaime A. Teixeira da Silva

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Written by Ivan Oransky

August 23, 2013 at 2:00 pm

12 Responses

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  1. Why are journals reluctant to use the correct word?

    Sharon O'Connor

    August 23, 2013 at 5:45 pm

    • One word answer: LAWYERS

      scott allen

      August 24, 2013 at 8:06 pm

      • There is nothing more euphemistic than a lawyer. So, how does US law deal with a fraudster from Pakistan or from Vietname, for exmaple?


        August 26, 2013 at 5:59 pm

  2. How would you find out if the same paper has already been published in other language? Not sure whether any software can pick this up. Challenging?

    Ressci Integrity

    August 23, 2013 at 7:36 pm

    • Absolutely! Many have witnessed such a phenomenon. The problem is that colleagues would not blow the whistle and if they did , most institutions would be reluctant to admit it, why? the impact on ranking and reputation!


      August 24, 2013 at 4:45 am

  3. It’s not really a euphemism, it’s more or less using the definition of plagiarism rather than the word itself.


    August 23, 2013 at 10:11 pm

    • I am extremely concerned that publishers are retracting papers without quantifying the level of plagiarism. The P word will soon become to science what the N word has become to English-speaking societies: a taboo. When publishers, especially top-tier ones such as Taylor and Francis, use euphemisms to avoid referring to the actual “crime” being committed, and when the actual act committed is not being quantified, then we can safely assume that the state of science publishing, and its values, is rapidly eroding. I equate euphemistic transparency with fashionable pseudo quality control and unquantified claims with a kangaroo-court-style persecution. Why does the publisher not clearly indicate, with whatever software it used, the exact text that was copied or plagiarised, together with the original. Without this level of depth in a retraction notice, how is the scientific community supposed to learn? Without clear definitions in the Instructions for authors as to exactly (percentage-wise) how much text can be plagiarized (0.00% is literally impossible), then how are academics supposed to know if they have committed a “crime” of the P word? Although I do not support plagiarism, I do somewhat feel sorry for the authors, because raw justice without an appropriate transparent indication by the publisher about the exact EXTENT of the “crime”. In my view, Taylor and Francis should also take a slap on the wrist and be held partially accountable for not having screened for plagiarism during the peer review process and prior to publication. In essence, from the authors’ perspective, the authors would have felt (this is my guess) that the publisher would have completed the peer review process efficiently and professionally. When publishers add this sort of Retraction note, erosion in trust by scientists in publishers also takes place. FYI: there is no association with any of the authors or the publisher, so no COIs blur my opinion here.

      The Hat Tipper

      August 24, 2013 at 4:54 pm

      • absolutely! It also depends on what software you use! there are no guidelines and no proper use of these software programmes as well.

        Ressci Integrity

        August 25, 2013 at 9:46 am

  4. It’s not a euphemism: it’s merely ‘using a synonymous phrase to avoid the negative connotations of the word in question’. Not a euphemism, totally.

    • It doesn’t avoid the negative connotations as far as I’m concerned.


      August 25, 2013 at 9:08 am

  5. Reminds me of this nonsense:


    wherein a publisher issues an erratum to point that “The authors wish to inform readers that in their article, … , they did not properly reference material taken from several previously published works.”

    Ivan C

    August 26, 2013 at 5:14 pm

    • I am not sure if this blog entry was meant to make us laught, or cry! It’s a tragic comedy when we start to assess these euphemisms. I wonder if there are any psychologists who are on this blog who might be analyzing the psychology of this phenomenon. I think we need some non-scientific perspectives here, too.


      August 26, 2013 at 5:55 pm

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