Self-plagiarism in academic journal articles: from the perspectives of international editors-in-chief in editorial and COPE case


Scholarly misconduct causes significant impact on the academic community. To the extremes, results of scholarly misconduct could endanger public welfare as well as national security. Although self-plagiarism has drawn considerable amount of attention, it is still a controversial issue among different aspect of academic ethic related discussions. The main purpose of this study is to identify two concerns including what is self-plagiarism in academic journals, conceivable point of contention, based on journal editors’ viewpoint. Between 1990 and 2015, content of 57 editorials indexed in Scopus and WoS and 75 cases of self-plagiarism raised by international editors in COPE were analyzed to explore how journal editors identify these problems. The results show that self-plagiarism can be categorized to four facets, including its identification, types, norm, and remedy. And the editors are concerned about the issues about the detection software, salami-slicing and overlapping publication, the harm of copyright, and the retractions of published articles. Results from this study not only could obtain in-depth understandings on self-plagiarism among academic journal articles but also being applied on establishing academic guidelines in the future.

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This study is funded by the Ministry of Science and Technology, Taiwan, under Grant No. MOST 103-2410-H-032-067.

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Corresponding author

Correspondence to Wen-Yau Cathy Lin.


Appendix 1: List of editorials containing self-plagiarism-related articles

Journal title Publish year Vol. no.
Archives of Disease in Childhood 1990 65:12
Journal of Obstetric, Gynecologic and Neonatal Nursing 2003 32
Nursing Outlook 2004 52
Pakistan Journal of Medical Sciences 2005 21:3
AU Journal of Technology a 2006 10:2
Australasian Physics & Engineering Sciences in Medicine 2007 30:4
Canadian Journal of Cardiology 2007 23:2
Canadian Journal of Nursing Research 2008 40:2
International Journal of Nursing Studies 2008 45:9
Journal of Medical Toxicology 2008 4:2
Journal of Tehran University Heart Center 2008 3:1
PramanaJournal of Physicsa 2008 70:5
Research in Nursing & Health 2008 31:4
Sadhana a 2008 33:2
American Journal of Roentgenology 2009 192:4
Journal of Molecular Medicine 2009 87:1
Solar Physics a 2009 260:1
The Lancet 2009 374:9691
European Journal of Cancer Care 2010 19:3
Journal of Nepal Paediatric Society 2010 30:2
Library & Archival Security a 2010 23:2
Canadian Association of Radiologists Journal 2011 62:3
International Urogynecology Journal 2011 22:8
Journal of General Internal Medicine 2011 16:1
Journal of the Association of Nurses in AIDS Care 2011 22:3
Oncologist 2011 16:10
ACS Nano a 2012 6:1
American Journal of Roentgenology 2012 199:4
European Journal of Clinical Investigation 2012 42:3
IEEE Robotics and Automation Magazine a 2012 19:4
Vaccine 2012 30:50
American Journal of Roentgenology 2013 200:2
American Journal of Roentgenology 2013 201:5
Annals of Biomedical Engineering 2013 41:1
Bosnian Journal of Basic Medical Sciences 2013 13:3
Brazilian Oral Research 2013 27:6
PramanaJournal of Physicsa 2013 81:1
Journal of the American Society for Information Science and Technology a 2013 64:5
Journal of The American Society for Mass Spectrometry a 2013 24:7
Journal of Wildlife Management a 2013 77:8
Knee Surgery, Sports Traumatology, Arthroscopy 2013 21:4
Research in Nursing & Health 2013 36:2
Research in Nursing & Health 2013 36:3
Research Policy a 2013 42:5
Advances in Health Sciences Education 2014 19:1
Applications in Plant Sciences a 2014 2:7
BMC Medicine 2014 12
Human Resource Development Review a 2014 13:1
Journal of Clinical Nursing 2014 23:12
New Zealand Journal of Medical Laboratory Science 2014 68:1
Nursing Research 2014 63:1
Online Brazilian Journal of Nursing 2014 13:2
American Journal of Neuroradiology 2015 36:6
Journal of Hydrometeorology a 2015
International Journal of Occupational and Environmental Medicine 2015 6:1
Journal of The American Association of Nurse Practitioners 2015 27:2
Journal of Wildlife Management a 2015 79:3
  1. aNon-medical discipline journals

Appendix 2: List of self-plagiarism issues covered by the COPE cases

COPE case # Case title Self-plagiarism Overlapping publication Redundant publication
15-16 Profusion of copied text passages   
15-14 Duplicate publication and removal of article   
14-10 Possible self-plagiarism and/or prior publication  
13-11 A case of salami slicing   
12-30 Retraction of the first article in the case of duplicate publication   
12-27 Submitted paper already published elsewhere  
12-21 A case of duplicate publication   
12-17 Duplication of data   
11-23 Possible overlapping publications/data   
11-21 Duplicate publication in possibly four papers   
11-20 Duplicate publication allegation   
11-18 Retraction or correction?   
11-17 Self-plagiarism of review article   
11-14 Is this previous publication?   
10-21 Dual publication   
10-18 Self-plagiarism?   
10-16 Concerns over research by an author in numerous, separate publications   
10-14 Supervisor publishes PhD students work   
10-01 Case of duplicate publication detected after 9 years   
09-21 Self plagiarism   
09-20 Alleged unauthorized use of data and possible dual publication   
09-07 Duplicate publication or salami publication?  
09-06 Duplicate publication   
09-03 Multiple publication of research   
08-29 A case of duplicate publication?   
08-19 Simultaneous publication   
08-11 Clear case of duplicate publication?   
08-05 Retrospective trial registration   
07-42 Duplicate publication in a non-English language journal   
07-28 Inadvertent discovery of salami submission   
07-27 Author dispute over internal report   
07-11 Plagiarism case   
07-09 Duplicate publication?   
06-28 Possible duplicate publication   
06-20 Duplicate publication   
06-02 Duplicate publication   
05-23 Duplicate publication   
05-15 Allegation of fraudulent publication   
05-07 Salami publication   
05-01 Dual publication   
04-29 Redundant publication   
04-06 Attempts to draw attention to potential duplicate publication   
04-05 Dual publication and attempted retraction by the author   
03-09 Potential duplicate publication   
03-08 Is it duplicate publication when the first study is referenced in the second paper?   
02-14 Dual publication   
02-03 Duplicate submission to two journals and previous duplicate publication uncovered   
02-02 Duplicate publication   
01-33 Redundant publication and a question of authorship   
01-27 Query triplicate publication?   
01-25 Duplicate publication   
01-20 The single authored, unbelievable, randomised controlled trial   
01-18 Duplicate publication   
01-15 Duplicate submission, overlap of papers, and a referenced paper that was not in press   
01-13 Duplicate publication   
01-12 Attempted redundant publication   
01-11 Duplicate publication   
01-10 Redundant publication   
00-09 The study that may or may not already have been published   
00-03 Editorial compliance with duplicate publication   
99-20 Dual publication may be necessary in some situations   
99-06 Yet another case of duplicate publication   
98-32 Redundant publication by an editorial board member   
98-28 Redundant publication   
98-21 Duplicate publication and now fraud?   
98-19 The double review  
98-18 Triplicate publication with possibly different data in each  
98-15 Questions of authorship, duplicate publication and copyright   
98-12 Possible duplicate publication?  
98-08 Redundant publication?  
98-04 Redundant publication   
98-01 Blatant example of duplicate publication?   
97-19 The tortuous tale of a paper, a letter and an editorial   
97-06 Attempted redundant publication?   
97-03 Disagreement between a reviewer and an author   

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Lin, WY.C. Self-plagiarism in academic journal articles: from the perspectives of international editors-in-chief in editorial and COPE case. Scientometrics 123, 299–319 (2020).

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  • Self-plagiarism
  • Academic journal
  • Editor
  • Redundant publication
  • Overlapping publication
  • Research ethics