October 11, 2007

Plagiarism? No, we're just borrowing better English - Correspondance: NATURE

Ihsan Yilmaz1
The accusations made by arXiv that my colleagues and I have plagiarized the works of others, reported in your News story 'Turkish physicists face accusations of plagiarism' (Nature 449, 8; doi:10.1038/449008b 2007) are upsetting and unfair.
It's inappropriate to single out my colleagues and myself on this issue. For those of us whose mother tongue is not English, using beautiful sentences from other studies on the same subject in our introductions is not unusual. I imagine that if all articles from specialist fields of research were checked, similarities with other texts and papers would easily be found. In my case, I aimed to cite all the references from which I had sourced information, although I may have missed some of them.
Borrowing sentences in the part of a paper that simply helps to better introduce the problem should not be seen as plagiarism. Even if our introductions are not entirely original, our results are — and these are the most important part of any scientific paper.
In the current climate of 'publish or perish', we are under pressure to publish our findings along with an introduction that reads well enough for the paper to be published and read, so that our research will be noticed and inspire further work.

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