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Information for Plagiarism Policy

Last updated: 2022-04-30

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STM is committed to upholding the highest standards of academic integrity and ethical publishing. Plagiarism is a serious offense, and STM takes all allegations of plagiarism seriously.

What is Plagiarism?

Plagiarism refers to the act of using someone else's words, ideas, or work without proper attribution or acknowledgment, presenting them as one's own. It is a serious academic misconduct that undermines the principles of integrity, honesty, and intellectual rigor in scholarly endeavors.

Plagiarism can take various forms, including:

  • Direct Plagiarism: Copying verbatim text from a source without enclosing it in quotation marks or providing proper citation. This includes lifting sentences, paragraphs, or entire passages from another author's work without permission.
  • Paraphrasing without Attribution: Rewriting someone else's ideas or arguments in one's own words without acknowledging the original source. While paraphrasing involves rephrasing the text, the underlying ideas remain the same, and failure to credit the original author constitutes plagiarism.
  • Unacknowledged Sources: Failing to cite or reference sources from which information, data, or concepts were obtained. Even if the information is summarized or synthesized, it must be properly attributed to the original author to avoid plagiarism.
  • Self-Plagiarism: Reusing one's own previously published work or parts thereof without proper citation or permission. While authors have the right to build upon their own research, they must clearly indicate when and where the material was previously published to avoid misleading readers.
  • Incomplete or Incorrect Citations: Providing citations that are incomplete, inaccurate, or misleading, thereby failing to give credit to the original source properly. Accurate citation is essential for allowing readers to locate and verify the original information.

Plagiarism Prevention

STM uses the Quetext software to detect instances of overlapping and similar text in submitted manuscripts. Quetext software checks content against a database of periodicals, the Internet, and a comprehensive article database. It generates a similarity report, highlighting the percentage of overlap between the uploaded article and the published material. Any instance of content overlap is further scrutinized for suspected plagiarism according to the publisher’s Editorial Policies. STM allows an overall similarity of 11% for a manuscript to be considered for publication. The similarity percentage is further checked keeping the following important points in view.

Types of Plagiarism

We all know that scholarly manuscripts are written after a thorough review of previously published articles. It is therefore not easy to draw a clear boundary between legitimate representation and plagiarism. However, the following important features can assist in identifying different kinds of plagiarized content.

These are:

  • Reproduction of others' words, sentences, ideas, or findings as one’s own without proper acknowledgment.
  • Text recycling, also known as self-plagiarism. It is an author’s use of a previous publication in another paper without proper citation and acknowledgment of the source.
  • Poor paraphrasing: Copying complete paragraphs and modifying a few words without changing the structure of original sentences or changing the sentence structure but not the words.
  • Verbatim copying of text without putting quotation marks and not acknowledging the work of the original author.
  • Properly citing a work but poorly paraphrasing the original text is considered as unintentional plagiarism. Similarly, manuscripts with language somewhere between paraphrasing and quoting are not acceptable. Authors should either paraphrase properly or quote and in both cases, cite the source.
  • Higher similarity in the abstract, introduction, materials and methods, and discussion and conclusion sections indicates that the manuscript may contain plagiarized text. Authors can easily explain these parts of the manuscript in many ways. However, technical terms and sometimes standard procedures cannot be rephrased; therefore Editors must review these sections carefully before making a decision.

Acceptance Criteria

  • Manuscripts submitted for consideration must contain less than 10% plagiarized content, as per the guidelines set forth by the University Grants Commission (UGC) and other relevant authorities.
  • Manuscripts should present original research findings, ideas, or perspectives that contribute to the existing body of knowledge.
  • The research presented in the manuscript should be methodologically sound, well-executed, and rigorously analyzed.
  • Manuscripts should address important research questions or issues and have the potential to make a significant impact on the field.
  • Manuscripts should be well-written, logically structured, and easy to understand for the intended audience.
  • Manuscripts must adhere to ethical standards, including proper citation of sources, disclosure of conflicts of interest, and protection of human and animal subjects.
  • Manuscripts should align with the scope and focus of the Journal and adhere to the specified formatting and style guidelines.

Acceptable Referencing and Citation

Acceptable referencing and citation practices are essential components of academic writing, ensuring that authors give proper credit to sources and allow readers to locate and verify the information presented. Proper referencing demonstrates intellectual honesty, acknowledges the contributions of others, and upholds scholarly integrity.

  • Citation Styles: Different academic disciplines and Journals may have specific citation styles, such as APA (American Psychological Association), MLA (Modern Language Association), Chicago, or Harvard. Authors should follow the prescribed citation style guidelines consistently throughout their manuscript.
  • In-Text Citations: When referring to specific ideas, information, or data from a source within the text of the manuscript, authors should include an in-text citation indicating the author's last name and the year of publication. For direct quotations, page numbers should also be provided.
  • Reference List or Bibliography: At the end of the manuscript, authors should include a reference list or bibliography containing full citations for all sources cited in the text. Each entry should provide complete publication details, including author(s) name(s), title of the work, publication date, and relevant publication information (e.g., Journal name, volume, page numbers for articles).
  • Accuracy and Consistency: Authors must ensure the accuracy and consistency of citations throughout the manuscript. All cited sources should be accurately represented, and citation formats should be consistent within the same manuscript.
  • Attribution of Ideas: Proper referencing is not limited to direct quotations but also includes the attribution of ideas, concepts, or arguments derived from other sources. Authors should acknowledge the original authors of ideas or theories even if they are paraphrased or summarized.

Consequences of Plagiarism

Plagiarism, whether intentional or unintentional, carries significant consequences that can impact both the individual plagiarist and the academic community as a whole. It undermines the integrity of scholarly research, erodes trust among peers, and compromises the credibility of academic institutions.

  • Academic Sanctions
    • Failure or Rejection: Plagiarized work may be rejected outright by editors, reviewers, or instructors. Students may fail assignments, courses, or even face expulsion from academic institutions.
    • Loss of Scholarly Opportunities: Plagiarism tarnishes an individual's academic reputation and credibility, jeopardizing future opportunities such as scholarships, grants, awards, or career advancement.
    • Rejection of the Manuscript: Manuscripts found to contain plagiarized content may be rejected outright by Journals or academic institutions.
    • Loss of Credibility and Reputation: Engaging in plagiarism can damage an author's reputation and credibility within the academic or publishing community, affecting future opportunities for publication or collaboration.
    • Barred from Submission: Authors found guilty of plagiarism may be prohibited from submitting further work to the publisher or Journal.
  • Legal Ramifications :
    • Copyright Infringement: Plagiarism violates copyright laws by using someone else's intellectual property without permission or proper attribution. This can result in legal action, fines, or damages for the plagiarist.
    • Defamation Lawsuits: Plagiarism can lead to defamation lawsuits if the original author's reputation or livelihood is harmed by the plagiarized content.
    Professional Consequences
    • Loss of Trust and Credibility: Plagiarism damages an individual's professional reputation and credibility within their field or industry. It undermines trust among colleagues, collaborators, and employers.
    • Career Implications: Plagiarism can hinder career advancement opportunities, such as job prospects, promotions, or tenure decisions. Employers may view plagiarists as unethical or untrustworthy professionals.
    Ethical Violations
    • Violation of Academic Integrity Policies: Plagiarism violates the ethical standards and academic integrity policies upheld by educational institutions, professional organizations, and scholarly Journals.
    • Betrayal of Trust: Plagiarism betrays the trust of readers, peers, mentors, and collaborators who expect originality, honesty, and integrity in academic and professional endeavors.

Responsibilities of Authors and Reviewers

Plagiarism undermines the integrity and credibility of scholarly research, and both authors and reviewers play crucial roles in ensuring the prevention and detection of plagiarism in academic publications.

Responsibilities of Authors

  • Originality of Work
    • Authors are responsible for ensuring that their work is original and does not contain any plagiarized content from other sources. They should cite and reference all sources appropriately and accurately.
  • Attribution of Sources
    • Authors must provide proper attribution to all sources they have used in their work, whether it be direct quotes, paraphrased information, or ideas. Failure to acknowledge sources constitutes plagiarism.
  • Citation Integrity
    • Authors should accurately cite all references and sources used in their manuscript according to the required citation style. They must ensure that citations are complete, consistent, and properly formatted.
  • Use of Text-Matching Software
    • Authors may use text-matching software (e.g., Turnitin, iThenticate) to check their manuscript for any instances of unintentional plagiarism. They should review and address any flagged passages before submission.
  • Compliance with Ethical Guidelines
    • Authors should adhere to the ethical guidelines and policies of the Journal or publisher regarding plagiarism and academic integrity. This includes disclosing any conflicts of interest and obtaining necessary permissions for the use of copyrighted materials.

Responsibilities of Reviewers

  • Plagiarism Detection
    • Editors or reviewers can manually compare the submitted manuscript to previously published works or use their expertise in the field to identify similarities in language or content that may indicate plagiarism.
    • STM utilize specialized software programs that compare the submitted manuscript to a vast database of published works and other sources. These programs analyze the text to identify similarities and potential instances of plagiarism. Examples of such software include Quetext.
    • The peer review process plays a crucial role in identifying plagiarism and other ethical violations. Reviewers are expected to thoroughly evaluate the manuscript and flag any potential issues, including instances of plagiarism.
    • Authors are encouraged to use plagiarism detection software or online tools to check their own work before submission. These tools can help authors identify and address any potential instances of plagiarism independently. Examples of such tools include Grammarly, Copyscape, and Quetext.
  • Alerting Editors :
    • Reviewers should promptly notify the Journal editor if they suspect plagiarism or unethical conduct in the manuscript under review. They should provide specific details and evidence to support their concerns.
    Maintaining Confidentiality
    • Reviewers must maintain confidentiality regarding the manuscript and any plagiarism concerns raised during the review process. They should not disclose confidential information to unauthorized individuals.
    Providing Constructive Feedback
    • If plagiarism is detected, reviewers should provide constructive feedback to the editor, outlining the extent of the issue and suggesting appropriate actions, such as rejection, revision, or further investigation.
    Rejecting Plagiarized Manuscripts
    • Reviewers have the authority to recommend rejection of a manuscript if plagiarism is identified and cannot be adequately addressed by the authors. They should ensure that the integrity of the scholarly literature is upheld.

Procedures for Investigating Plagiarism

Investigating plagiarism is a critical process undertaken by academic institutions, Journals, or editorial boards to assess allegations or suspicions of plagiarism in scholarly works. Proper procedures are essential to ensure fairness, transparency, and integrity in addressing plagiarism concerns.

  • Initial Assessment
    • Upon receiving allegations or suspicions of plagiarism, the responsible authority, such as an academic integrity committee or editorial board, conducts an initial assessment to determine the validity and severity of the plagiarism claims.
    • The assessment may involve reviewing the original and suspect documents, examining evidence provided by the complainant, and evaluating the extent of similarity between the texts.
  • Document Examination
    • The suspect document(s) are thoroughly examined to identify instances of potential plagiarism. This may include comparing the suspect text with known sources using plagiarism detection software, such as Turnitin or iThenticate.
    • Investigators analyze the nature and extent of the similarities, including verbatim copying, paraphrasing, or improper citation, to assess the severity of the plagiarism
  • Author Response
    • Authors accused of plagiarism are given an opportunity to respond to the allegations and provide explanations or evidence to refute the claims.
    • Authors may be asked to provide documentation supporting the originality of their work, such as research notes, drafts, or records of sources consulted during the writing process.
  • Expert Review
    • In cases where plagiarism allegations are complex or contentious, experts in the field may be consulted to provide independent analysis and assessment of the evidence.
    • Expert reviewers evaluate the similarities between the suspect text and the original sources, considering factors such as context, language, and citation practices.
  • Decision and Sanctions
    • Based on the findings of the investigation, the responsible authority makes a decision regarding the presence and severity of plagiarism.
    • Possible outcomes may include rejection or retraction of the plagiarized work, imposition of sanctions on the responsible author(s), such as academic penalties, publication bans, or legal consequences.

Plagiarism in Published Manuscripts

Published manuscripts that are found to contain plagiarized text are retracted from the Journal’s website after careful investigation and approval by the Editor-in-Chief of the Journal. A ‘Retraction Note’, as well as a link to the original article, is published on the electronic version of the plagiarized manuscript and an addendum with retraction notification in the particular Journal.

Low Text Similarity

The text of every submitted manuscript is checked using the Content Tracking mode in Quetext. The Content Tracking mode ensures that manuscripts with an overall low percentage similarity (but may have a higher similarity from a single source) are not overlooked. The acceptable limit for the similarity of text from a single source is 5%. If the similarity level is above 5%, the manuscript is returned to the author for paraphrasing the text and citing the source of the copied material. It is important to mention that text taken from different sources with an overall low similarity percentage will be considered plagiarized content if the majority of the article is a combination of copied material.

High Text Similarity

There may be some manuscripts with an overall low similarity percentage, but a higher percentage from a single source. A manuscript may have less than 20% overall similarity but there may be 15% similar text taken from a single article. The similarity index in such cases is higher than the approved limit for a single source. Authors are advised to thoroughly rephrase similar text and properly cite the source to avoid plagiarism and copyright violation.

Fabricating and Stating False Information

To ensure the scholarly integrity of every article, STM will publish post-publication notices. The authors of the published articles, or those who have submitted the manuscripts with false information, or fabricated the supporting data or images, will be liable for sanctions, and their papers will be retracted.

Non-Identifiable Images

Anonymous images that do not identify the individual directly or indirectly, such as through any identifying marks or text, do not require formal consent, for example, X-rays, ultrasound images, pathology slides, or laparoscopic images. In case consent is not obtained, concealing the identity through eye bars or blurring the face would not be acceptable.

Errata and Corrections in Published Articles

Authors and readers are encouraged to notify the Editor-in-Chief if they find errors in published content, authors’ names, and affiliations or if they have reasons for concern over the legitimacy of a publication.

Article Retraction

If any manuscripts are published, having certain assigned information of volume/issue/page number, and it is found that there are infringements of professional ethical codes in their content, such as plagiarism, excess similarity with some other article, fraudulent use of data, etc., then such manuscripts are retracted.

  • A retraction note entitled “Retraction: [article title]” (for example Retraction: ABC experiment involving XYZ species) is published in the paginated part of the next scheduled issue of the Journal and is also listed in the table of contents
  • The retraction note is approved by the Editor-in-Chief of the concerned Journal.
  • A link to the original article is displayed in the online (electronic) version..
  • A screen containing the note of retraction appears before the electronic version of the article present on the website. On the screen, a link for the complete article is present, i.e. to access the retracted article.
  • The link/webpage of the original article remains unchanged, however, a watermark is shaded on its downloadable PDF document, to explicitly give the message that the article was retracted.

Concurrent Publication/Simultaneous Submission

It is a condition of publication that manuscripts submitted to the STM have not been published and will not be simultaneously submitted or published elsewhere. Plagiarism is strictly forbidden, and by submitting the article for publication the authors agree that the publishers have the legal right to take appropriate action against the authors if plagiarism or fabricated information is discovered.

Appeals Process

The appeals process provides individuals with a formal mechanism to challenge decisions made by academic institutions, Journals, or editorial boards regarding plagiarism allegations or other matters related to scholarly integrity. It ensures fairness, transparency, and accountability in addressing disputes or grievances.

  • Appeals Submission
    • The appeals process typically begins with the submission of a formal appeal by the aggrieved party, outlining the grounds for the appeal and providing any supporting documentation or arguments.
    • Appeals may be submitted to the appropriate authority, such as an academic integrity committee, editorial board, or Journal editor, within a specified timeframe stipulated in the institution's or Journal's policies.
  • Review of Appeal
    • The appeal is reviewed by an impartial body or individual(s) designated to handle appeals, such as an appeals committee or ombudsperson. They assess the merits of the appeal, examine relevant evidence, and consider any arguments presented by both parties.
  • Opportunity for Response
    • The party against whom the appeal is lodged is given an opportunity to respond to the appeal and provide additional information or clarification as needed.
    • Both parties may be allowed to present their cases orally or in writing, depending on the established procedures.
  • Decision on Appeal
    • Following a thorough review of the appeal and all relevant materials, the appeals body renders a decision on the appeal.
    • Expert reviewers evaluate the similarities between the suspect text and the original sources, considering factors such as context, language, and citation practices.
    • The decision may uphold, reverse, or modify the original decision, depending on the grounds and evidence presented during the appeal process.
  • Communication of Outcome
    • The outcome of the appeal is communicated to the parties involved, along with the rationale for the decision. This ensures transparency and accountability in the appeals process.
    • In cases where the original decision is overturned or modified, appropriate actions may be taken to remedy any adverse effects resulting from the initial decision.