METM09 presentation     Thread: Promising practices

A Manuscript Editor’s Guide to Handling Plagiarism*

Marije de Jager -“ Italy; and Mary Ellen Kerans -“ Spain

Publishing and academic communities have expressed concern that plagiarism is on the rise, to the point that some authors in some communities consider questionable practices to be part of the normal scientific writing process. Certainly, the debates on -˜salami publication', duplicate publication, re-publication (-˜self-plagiarism') and journals' reception of stale-sounding -˜me-too' research reports all suggest that plagiarism and related problems have increased. We are especially aware of this in -˜peripheral' settings outside the prestigious centers of research and publication. In these settings, journals are starved for good manuscripts and reject less often, while authors face greater language-related obstacles.

We look at plagiarism from a practical standpoint, focusing on how manuscript editors are affected and what we can do. We then suggest goals for discussing the problem with authors that are compatible with our roles. We also show procedures to follow in the absence of special resources. The proposed solutions are strict but effective -˜without destroying the author' -” referring to the title of a widely-read discussion thread on the topic (14-18 Feb 2005). Experience in counseling others at the association Mediterranean Editors and Translators and in workshops suggests this approach works for manuscript editors in various settings.

* A version of this presentation was given at the 10th Conference of the European Association of Science Editors (16-19 September 2009, Pisa, Italy) -“ Integrity in Science Communication.


Marije de Jager is a freelance copy editor and translator living in Rovereto, Italy. She has been working in medical editing and translating for more than 20 years and currently edits several English-language medical journals published in Italy. She began serving on the Council of Mediterranean Editors and Translators (MET) in 2006.

Mary Ellen Kerans, a freelance author's editor and translator based in Barcelona, is presently Chair of the MET Council. Her current interests include calling communication facilitators' attention to the various types of research-based and practical knowledge that help us do our work better and with greater satisfaction.