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Published (but inadvertently missed?) data on plagiarism misconduct in lower-income countries

Posted by KarenWoolley on 02 Apr 2013 at 06:25 GMT

Although not cited by Ana et al., a paper we published last year provides data that we hope would be of interest to these authors and researchers around the world with an interest in understanding and, ideally, preventing publication misconduct.
A quick search of Medline (using the terms “misconduct lower income”) brings up our paper: Stretton S, Bramich NJ, Keys JR et al., Publication misconduct and plagiarism retractions: a systematic, retrospective study. Curr Med Res Opin 2012. 28(1):1575-83. Efforts to understand and prevent plagiarism may find it helpful to take into account that the odds of plagiarism (vs other types of misconduct) appear to be higher for:
• First authors from lower-income vs higher-income countries
• First authors from countries where English is not the national language
• Papers based on non-original research
• Papers based on case studies / series vs other original research article types
• Papers published in lower-ranked vs higher-ranked journals
Interestingly, and perhaps indicative of the chance for redemption, our results showed that those who plagiarised (vs committed other forms of misconduct) were less likely to be serial offenders.

Using evidence to help allocate resources to where they are most needed seems to be a sensible idea. Beyond conducting and publishing research, we are also providing no cost or low cost educational initiatives for authors in lower-income countries. Papers that we have co-authored with Dr Mouyue WANG from the Chinese Medical Journal and with Dr Ping SUN from the Chinese Office of Research Integrity focus on how authors and professional medical writers (who are NOT ghostwriters) can work together, ethically and effectively, to publish research in international journals. A free webinar with Dr Trish Groves from the BMJ and Ying (Jodi) ZHU from Eli Lilly China will offer authors from the Asia-Pacific region practical tips for meeting international journal requirements. The webinar, held on May 17 2013, is supported by the not-for-profit International Society for Medical Publication Professionals ( We invite authors from lower-income countries to access this free webinar. We will also be encouraging authors to use the anti-ghostwriting checklist we published in PLoS Medicine in 2009 (Gøtzsche PC, Kassirer JP, Woolley KL et al.)

Professor Karen Woolley
CEO, ProScribe Medical Communications (
Professor, University of Queensland; Professor, University of the Sunshine Coast, Australia
Director, ISMPP; Chair, ISMPP Asia-Pacific Advisory Committee

Competing interests declared: I conduct and publish research on ethical medical writing practices. I am actively involved in not-for-profit associations that educate members on ethical publication practices. I am paid to provide ethical medical writing training courses and services for not-for-profit and for-profit clients, particularly for those in the Asia-Pacific region.