Q: A few questions about plagiarism

Detailed Question -

Thank you very much for beautifully explaining various steps in the editorial review process. I need some information about plagiarism. What is the acceptable range of similar content? How could we know if our manuscript has any plagiarized content? At what stage does the journal staff check the paper for plagiarism? Could you please share more information about plagiarism?

1 Answer to this question

Here are the answers to your questions:

Ideally, journals should have zero tolerance for intentionally plagiarized content. However, that said, journal editors know that some similarity with existing literature is sometimes unavoidable, especially for non-native speakers of English, who find it difficult to rewrite content using their own words. Additionally, the automated plagiarism detectors used by journals are not always an accurate means to detect plagiarism, particularly when a manuscript has highly technical content and terminology. Therefore, most journals generally have some tolerance for similar content as detected by the plagiarism detection software. Although there is no consensus on this, around 15 to 20 per cent similarity might be considered acceptable by most journals. However, this also varies by the article type and the different sections of the manuscript. For example, journals might have higher tolerance for similar content in review articles and in the methods section of manuscripts.

Many authors conduct a plagiarism check of their article before submission to ensure that they clear the plagiarism check at the journal end. There are different plagiarism detection software available online that can be used for this purpose, such as iThenticatePlagTrackerViper, etc. If you feel that the percentage is still high, you would need to revise your paper once again. If you find it difficult to reword the content, you can ask a colleague or a friend who is a native speaker of English to help you. Alternatively, you could consider taking professional help. Editage also has a plagiarism check service.

Generally, the plagiarism check is conducted soon after submission, during the initial editorial check. If the percentage is similar content is too high, the paper receives a desk rejection. However, if the similarity is not too high, the manuscript might be returned, with a request to revise and resubmit. However, remember that different software might turn out different results for plagiarism. So do not be surprised if the percentage of similar content mentioned by the journal does not match with the results of your plagiarism check; some difference in percentage is normal.

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