Medicine, Health Care and Philosophy

, Volume 18, Issue 1, pp 91–101 | Cite as

Plagiarism in research

  • Gert HelgessonEmail author
  • Stefan Eriksson
Scientific Contribution


Plagiarism is a major problem for research. There are, however, divergent views on how to define plagiarism and on what makes plagiarism reprehensible. In this paper we explicate the concept of “plagiarism” and discuss plagiarism normatively in relation to research. We suggest that plagiarism should be understood as “someone using someone else’s intellectual product (such as texts, ideas, or results), thereby implying that it is their own” and argue that this is an adequate and fruitful definition. We discuss a number of circumstances that make plagiarism more or less grave and the plagiariser more or less blameworthy. As a result of our normative analysis, we suggest that what makes plagiarism reprehensible as such is that it distorts scientific credit. In addition, intentional plagiarism involves dishonesty. There are, furthermore, a number of potentially negative consequences of plagiarism.


Fabrication Intellectual contribution Plagiarism Scientific misconduct Software Scientific credit 



We would like to thank the participants at seminars at Stockholm Centre for Healthcare Ethics, Centre for Research Ethics and Bioethics at Uppsala University, and at the International Bioethics retreat in Paris 2013 for valuable suggestions and constructive criticism of earlier versions of this paper.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2014

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Learning, Informatics, Management and Ethics, Stockholm Centre for Healthcare EthicsKarolinska InstitutetStockholmSweden
  2. 2.Centre for Research Ethics and BioethicsUppsala UniversityUppsalaSweden

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