Plagiarism and duplicate publication

On this page

Plagiarism and fabrication

Plagiarism is unacknowledged copying or an attempt to misattribute original authorship, whether of ideas, text or results. As defined by the ORI (Office of Research Integrity), plagiarism can include, "theft or misappropriation of intellectual property and the substantial unattributed textual copying of another's work". Plagiarism can be said to have clearly occurred when large chunks of text have been cut-and-pasted without appropriate and unambiguous attribution. Such manuscripts would not be considered for publication in a Nature Research journal. Aside from wholesale verbatim reuse of text, due care must be taken to ensure appropriate attribution and citation when paraphrasing and summarising the work of others. "Text recycling" or reuse of parts of text from an author's previous research publication is a form of self-plagiarism. Here too, due caution must be exercised. When reusing text, whether from the author's own publication or that of others, appropriate attribution and citation is necessary to avoid creating a misleading perception of unique contribution for the reader.

Duplicate publication occurs when an author reuses substantial parts of his or her own published work without providing the appropriate references. This can range from publishing an identical paper in multiple journals, to only adding a small amount of new data to a previously published paper.

Nature Research journal editors assess all such cases on their individual merits. When plagiarism becomes evident post-publication, we may correct or retract the original publication depending on the degree of plagiarism, context within the published article and its impact on the overall integrity of the published study. Nature Research is part of Similarity Check, a service that uses software tools to screen submitted manuscripts for text overlap. 

Top of page ⤴

Due credit for others' work

Discussion of unpublished work

Manuscripts are sent out for review on the condition that any unpublished data cited within are properly credited and the appropriate permission has been sought. Where licenced data are cited, authors must include at submission a written assurance that they are complying with originators' data-licencing agreements.

Referees are encouraged to be alert to the use of appropriated unpublished data from databases or from any other source, and to inform the editor of any concern they may have.

This policy, which applies to all Nature Research journals, is explained in NatureHandling (mis?)appropriated data, February 2001.

Discussion of published work

When discussing the published work of others, authors must properly describe the contribution of the earlier work. Both intellectual contributions and technical developments must be acknowledged as such and appropriately cited.

The scientific record can be distorted through miscitation. Nature Cell BiologyAccurately reporting research, September 2009.

Citing the primary literature, and Nature Cell Biology’s revised reference limits. Nature Cell Biology. Credit where credit is due, January 2009.

Top of page ⤴

Nature Research journals' policy on duplicate publication

Material submitted to a Nature Research journal must be original and not published or submitted for publication elsewhere. This rule applies to material submitted elsewhere while the Nature Research journal contribution is under consideration.

Authors submitting a contribution to a Nature Research journal who have related material under consideration or in press elsewhere should upload a clearly marked copy at the time of submission, and draw the editors' attention to it in their cover letter. Authors must disclose any such information while their contributions are under consideration by a Nature Research journal - for example, if they submit a related manuscript elsewhere that was not written at the time of the original Nature Research journal submission.

If part of a contribution that an author wishes to submit to a Nature Research journal has appeared or will appear elsewhere, the author must specify the details in the covering letter accompanying the Nature Research submission. Consideration by the Nature Research journal is possible if the main result, conclusion, or implications are not apparent from the other work, or if there are other factors, for example if the other work is published in a language other than English.

The Nature Research journals are happy to consider submissions containing material that has previously formed part of a PhD or other academic thesis which has been published according to the requirements of the institution awarding the qualification.

The Nature Research journals support prior publication on recognized community preprint servers for review by other scientists in the field before formal submission to a journal. More information about our policies on preprints can be found here.

Nature Research journals allow publication of meeting abstracts before the full contribution is submitted. Such abstracts should be included with the Nature Research journal submission and referred to in the cover letter accompanying the manuscript.

In case of any doubt, authors should seek advice from the editor handling their contribution.

If an author of a submission is re-using a figure or figures published elsewhere, or that is copyrighted, the author must provide documentation that the previous publisher or copyright holder has given permission for the figure to be re-published. The Nature Research journal editors consider all material in good faith that their journals have full permission to publish every part of the submitted material, including illustrations.

Top of page ⤴

Nature Research journals' editorials

Plagiarism

  • There are tools to detect non-originality in articles, but instilling ethical norms remains essential. NaturePlagiarism pinioned, 7 July 2010.
  • Scientific plagiarism—a problem as serious as fraud—has not received all the attention it deserves. Nature MedicineThe insider’s guide to plagiarism, July 2009.
  • Tackling plagiarism is becoming an easier fight. Nature Physics. The truth will out, July 2009.
  • Accountability of coauthors for scientific misconduct, guest authorship and deliberate or negligent citation plagiarism, highlight the need for accurate author contribution statements. Nature Photonics. Combating plagiarism, May 2009.
  • Plagiarism is on the rise, thanks to the Internet. Universities and journals need to take action. NatureClamp down on copycats, 3 November 2005.

Fraud and replication

  • When it comes to research misconduct, burying one's head in the sand and pretending it doesn't exist is the worst possible plan. Nature Chemistry. They did a bad bad thing, May 2011.
  • Commit to promoting best practice in research and education in research ethics. Nature Cell BiologyCombating scientific misconduct, January 2011.
  • Scientific misconduct may be more prevalent than most researchers would like to admit. The solution needs to be wide-ranging yet nuanced. NatureSolutions, not scapegoats, 19 June 2008.
  • Related Commentary by S. Titus et al. in the same issue of Nature: Repairing research integrity.
  • The use of electronic laboratory notebooks should be supported by all concerned. Nature. Share your lab notes, 3 May 2007.
  • Record-keeping in the lab has stayed unchanged for hundreds of years, but today's experiments are putting huge pressure on the old ways. Nature News Feature. Electronic notebooks: a new leaf, 7 July 2005.
  • The true extent of plagiarism is unknown, but rising cases of suspect submissions are forcing editors to take action. Nature special report. Taking on the cheats, 19 May 2005.

Duplicate publication

Top of page ⤴