Research reveals copied text in scientific papers

Study of papers in Cornell University Library's online archive (arXiv) reveals 'text overlap'.

Researchers at Cornell University used computer text analysis on a massive database of scientific papers to discover how often authors are repeating text from previous papers.  The content of over 750,000 articles was analysed to identify 'overlapping phrases' of seven words or more.

The researchers set out to discover the level of this activity.  Often the copied text was written by the author in a previous paper – for example a description of the research process.  However the researchers also found examples of acknowledgements to love ones which were copied word for word, except for a name change. 

Some cultural differences were identified, in that authors for whom English is a second language may find it hard – or disrespectful – to change someone else’s words.

Source: Cornell via Marydee Ojala.