82% of editors of scholarly publications think plagiarism is a problem
Five issues surfaced as the leading concerns in the eyes of editors, many of them ethics-related: plagiarism, pressure to publish, poorly designed studies, technological advances that simplify image or data falsification and conflicts of interest between researchers and industry.
Among those, plagiarism and misconduct was ranked as the most worrisome, with 82 percent of respondents classifying it as a "serious" or "very serious" problem. 38 percent of editorial staffers classified the plagiarism they encounter as intentional, and 29 percent said most plagiarism is "blatant", involving large portions of unattributed text.
"Pressure to publish" followed closely, with 58 percent of those surveyed deeming it "serious" and 20 percent "very serious." Close to half of respondents believed that "poorly designed studies" (52 percent) and "conflicts of interest" (47 percent) were serious challenges, and "image/data falsification" was deemed serious by 38 percent of respondents.
When asked to identify specific concerns with researchers' practices, once again, plagiarism led the list. 60 percent of editors and editorial staff stated plagiarism as a top worry. 54 percent cited "focusing on number of publications rather than making advances" as a lead concern, and 53 percent honed in on "publishing the bare minimum" as a major issue. "Splitting studies across publications" garnered 38 percent of respondents' concern.
"These results reinforce that among the many challenges scholarly editors and editorial staff are facing, plagiarism, misconduct and the pressure to publish are not only highly pervasive, but send ripple effects throughout the academic research and publishing processes," said Chris Cross, general manager of iThenticate.
The survey also tapped editorial staffers' insights on preventing ethical issues, plagiarism in particular. While plagiarism detection software ranked highly as a prevention method, a significant faction of respondents favored more aggressive or punitive measures to deter ethical breaches.
Of -- "publishing the bare minimum" as a major issue --, see the final portion of LBE's article in 8 JMRIPL 80 (2008).