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Anti-Plagiarism Counter Measures: A Lighter Note

By Nader Naghshineh (Source: Iranian Professors Against Plagiarism)

My tenure as the Director of Information Studies Lab at University of Tehran is drawing to a close. I can just imagine the sigh of relief by the Accounts, as they no longer need to worry about how to finance my impulsive purchases. The primary purpose of the lab was to make the pursuit of science as a fun activity for the students. In early days, students tip toed around the Lab, and were afraid to break something. Nowadays they Oh-So-Politely (and at times not so politely) demand why the lab lacks a certain piece of equipment. I call that an improvement.

But nothing compares with the students trust which at times was the only thing that kept the lab going...especially in the area of comparative plagiarism research. A month ago I was worried about a new type of plagiarism which borders on Fraud. I call it stealth plagiarism. The issue cropped up during an investigation concerning the efficiency of plagiarism detection software for farsi articles. It seems that if a plagiarist-artist (and I use the term advisedly) exercises patience, there are a slew of techniques that would make plagiarizing other works nearly difficult for plagiarism detection software to identify.

Automated Fraud Detection Workshop
August 9, 2010, School of Computer Science - IPM, Tehran

What is Automated Fraud Detection - Dr. Behrouz Torabi
Automated Fraud Detection, a survey - Dr. Rouzbeh Touserkani
Artificial Immune Systems - Dr. Mehdi Sadeghi
Peer Group Analysis - Faezeh Dari
Neural Networks - Audrin Jalali
Kernel Methods - Mehdi Pakdaman

Imagine you wish to plagiarize article A. You take Article A... and translate it into Persian. You change the reference stylistics. Let us call this article Ap. You then take this article and retranslate it back into English (using an unsuspecting, cash-strapped translator). You then revise the stylistics using a word processor such as MS Word 2007. Here you need to know what anti plagiarism software the journal you intend to submit your article to is using. Apparently most of these softwares focus on patterns of similarities. Each has its own footprint. At this stage the revised article (which we call article Ae) would be reformatted to defeat this including the punctuation marks and paragraphing revisions. If done correctly, in most cases it is possible to push plagiarism detection efficiency down to 30%. This could mean a reasonable doubt that could lead to publication.

The sheer effort involved is more than what one spends on writing an article from scratch. However if the perpetrator is involved in Salami Slicing plagiarism or paper mill operation, it could make paper recycling harder to detect. I take off my hat before an evil genius who thought up this. While this is more closely akin to Fraud but within the framework of our research into plagiarism it could be termed as Stealth Plagiarism.

Please do share your thoughts with me on this subject...Do you think that there is a market for anti-Plagiarism counter measures... How about Anti-plagiarism Counter Counter Measures?

Wishing you all the best

Nader Naghshineh :)

Related Articles:

Iran's publish 'at any cost' mentality blamed for surge in academic fraud - By Hanna Fearn, Times Higher Education
University of Tehran scholar condemns quantity over quality approach. Hannah Fearn reports. A surge in research output in Iran has come at the cost of honesty, with the pressure on academics to publish leading to a widespread culture of plagiarism. In a damning critique of the Iranian academy, Nader Naghshineh, director of the information studies lab at the University of Tehran, said scholars are pressured into publishing "at any cost".

Iran's Science Minister Accused of Plagiarism
The science publication, Nature has discovered that "a 2009 paper co-authored by Kamran Daneshjou, Iran's science minister, are identical to those of a 2002 paper published by South Korean researchers." The 2009 article published by Kamran Daneshjou and Majid Shahravi in Engineering with Computer magazine is by implication a product of plagiarism. - 9/24/09

Natures Blog on Kamran Daneshjou's plagiarism

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