With one in three editors encountering plagiarism on a regular basis, it remains a real problem in scientific publishing, and open access is no exception. And the problem isn’t improving, there has been a recent increase in article retractions and problems with published work tarnished by plagiarism or even complete fabrication. However, the growth of retractions can also point to more screening, and more propensity on the part of editorial offices to retract. In response, Wiley has rolled out automatic reports upon submission using the iThenticate anti-plagiarism software (part of the Crosscheck service) across all Wiley Open Access journals using ScholarOneManuscripts.
So, what are Crosscheck and iThenticate how do they work?
The CrossCheck service offers a continuously updated database of current and archival scholarly literature. The second part of this service, the iThenticate tool, then compares authored work against the content in the database and highlights matching or similar text for further editorial review. The software produces a report for each manuscript, which includes a percentage score, called a ‘Similarity Index’. This index indicates how much of the document matches other sources, and sentences or paragraphs that are duplicates of those in previous publications are highlighted, with links to the previous articles included. In addition to the internet, manuscripts are checked against more than 37 million published research articles from over 500 global scientific, technical and medical publishers.
iThenticate identifies unoriginal content in three steps:
1.Document is uploaded to iThenticate.
2.The document is compared against a vast content database for plagiarism, using advanced plagiarism checker technology.
3.The results of the report, containing any detected matched materials or unattributed text, are ready in minutes.
To clarify, a high Similarity Index does not necessarily indicate plagiarism. It could be the result of small text overlaps with many individual sources, or a large overlap with a single source. The latter case would be more of a problem if the author had lifted a whole page from a previous manuscript, for example. Repetition can sometimes be difficult to avoid – after all, there are only so many ways to talk about a specific experimental technique. Similarly, you might expect review articles to contain higher levels of overlap compared to original research papers; so editors will always take into account the whole report, rather than relying on one ‘magic’ number.
What are the advantages of using iThenticate?
To begin with, the use of iThenticate across Wiley Open Access journals will go some way towards setting a standard for dealing with ethics issues. Wiley is committed to providing the best possible service for its authors and the use of this software on all submissions will vastly improve the submission and review process, while ensuring that Wiley Open Access journals meet the high ethical standards expected by our authors and society partners.
Because documents are screened by iThenticate at the submission stage, editors and editorial assistants will have been made aware of any possible ethical issues at the beginning of the peer review process. This allows plenty of time to address any problems during peer review, making for a much more efficient process. Additionally, editors are able to request any changes that need to be made as a result of the iThenticate report at the recommendation stage, so any textual overlap revision requests can be combined with all of the usual revision requests based on reviewer comments and/or English language revisions.
Of course, not all plagiarism is intentional. The iThenticate software makes it much easier for authors to identify and properly attribute any material that might contain unintended plagiarism. Authors can therefore ensure that they have cited their sources sufficiently, and that their finished submissions are of the highest possible standard.
The use of iThenticate across the majority of Wiley Open Access journals will help to ensure that the best ethical practices are used across the program, enhancing the reputation of the journals while benefiting editors and authors alike.