The Iran chapter of the Academy of Sciences for the Developing World, speaking for the country's academic community, deplores the recent cases of alleged plagiarism by Iranian scientists (see Nature 462, 704–705; 2009).
Iran's scientific community is largely free of such unethical behaviour. The calibre of its scientific output is reflected by the substantial growth in recent years in its share of research articles published in high-quality, peer-reviewed international journals.
Several factors account for this improvement in Iran's research output, including sustained and generous government support for science, a swelling of the ranks of young researchers and increasing international collaboration.
The Internet has facilitated communication with our colleagues elsewhere — but the availability of journals on the Internet has also made plagiarism easier. This widely acknowledged problem affects the scientific community worldwide. Iran, sadly, is no exception, and the country's science community is overhauling its practices to counter this scourge.
But circumstances more specific to Iran are also conducive to the spread of plagiarism. Iranian culture places an excessive emphasis on the value of academic credentials, both for advancement in official professions and in social standing. In particular, Iran's political class has an unusual affinity for possessing academic distinctions, as exemplified by the fact that a university degree is a prerequisite for election to parliament. A higher degree is also considered an important qualification for holding other government offices. As a result, the Iranian political class, across the political and ideological spectrum, accounts for a disproportionate share of academic fraud.
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Ardalan, F., Arfaei, H., Mansouri, R. et al. Iran's scientists condemn instances of plagiarism. Nature 462, 847 (2009). https://doi.org/10.1038/462847a
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