In the second phase of the study, outlined in the Nature commentary, Dr. Garner and Dr. Mounir Errami, an instructor in internal medicine, refined their electronic search process so that is was thousands of times faster. An analysis of more than seven million Medline abstracts turned up nearly 70,000 highly similar papers.
Plagiarism may be the most extreme and nefarious form of unethical publication, Dr. Garner said, but simultaneously submitting the same research results to multiple journals or repeated publication of the same data may also be considered unacceptable in many circumstances.
When it comes to duplicate or repeated publications, however, there are some forms that are not only completely ethical, but also valuable to the scientific community. For example, long-term studies such as clinical trial updates and longitudinal surveys require annual or bi-annual publication of progress, and these updates often contain verbatim reproductions of much of the original text.
We can identify near-duplicate publications using our search engine, said Dr. Garner, who is a faculty member in the Eugene McDermott Center for Human Growth and Development at UT Southwestern. But neither the computer nor we can make judgment calls as to whether an article is plagiarized or otherwise unethical. That task must be left to human reviewers, such as university ethics committees and journal editors, the groups ultimately responsible for determining legitimacy.
Dr. Garner said eTBLAST not only detects the prevalence of duplicate publications, but also offers a possible solution to help prevent future unethical behavior.
Our objective in this research is to make a significant impact on how scientific publications may be handled in the future,
|Contact: Amanda Siegfried|
UT Southwestern Medical Center