Q: Does a plagiarism checker work for plagiarism between different languages?

Detailed Question -

Does a plagiarism checker work for plagiarism between different languages? For example, if I use an idea from a Japanese paper and do not cite it in my English paper, does a plagiarism checker detect that?

1 Answer to this question

The problem that you are referring to is cross-lingual plagiarism, where the original content is in a language different from the language of the plagiarized text. In scholarly publishing, this is a growing concern since auto-translation tools make it easy to copy ideas/text from an already published paper and translate it into a different language.

Most existing plagiarism-detection programs check for similarity in phrases/sentences between articles written in the same language. Even though some may support multiple languages and have content databases in multiple languages, they typically check for plagiarism across texts in the same language and not across languages. While some plagiarism detectors do offer cross-lingual plagiarism checks, it is unclear if they are as effective at detecting this form of plagiarism as they are with detecting plagiarism across articles in the same language. This is because of the complexity involved in detecting similarity across articles that may be written in languages whose grammatical structures are very different. Cross-lingual plagiarism detection has been a topic of much research in recent years and may become more sophisticated with time.

Irrespective of how effective plagiarism detection software is, plagiarism of ideas/content already published in another language may still be detected by journals, if not at the review stage, then after publication. Researchers from a specific field of work, including peer reviewers, often keep themselves updated about cutting-edge research in their discipline even if it is published in languages other than the ones they read/write in. This is being made possible by several publishers who publish at least abstracts of papers in another language for broad dissemination (typically English abstracts for non-English papers). Moreover, some sophisticated literature discovery tools may allow researchers to find papers on their topic of interest even if they are published in languages other than English.

Using ideas/concepts from a paper published in a different language without citing the paper still constitutes plagiarism and, if detected, can harm the author’s reputation as well as chances of publication.

Authors can also get their manuscript checked for language, structure, references to ensure it’s free of common problems and ready for submission.

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