1. Cronin, Sherill Nones PhD, RN, C


Unfortunately, the frequency of plagiarism is increasing in the nursing profession. We are encouraged to write, especially those of us in academia, and we all live very active lives. Pressure to publish, especially when coupled with lack of time, can lead to plagiarism, whether inadvertent or not. This article will discuss the problem of plagiarism and provide tips on how to avoid it in your own work.


Article Content

More now than ever before, nurses are writing articles for publication. Regrettably, with this increase in publishing, the incidence of plagiarism is also on the rise. In the past 2 years, various forms of plagiarism have been detected in 10 manuscripts submitted to DCCN (approximately 5%). Fortunately, like many other journals, some of our editorial board members, consultants, and peer reviewers work for more than one journal and are often able to identify plagiarism before a manuscript is published. However, occurrences of plagiarism occasionally slip through.


Several reasons for the increase in plagiarism have been advanced. 1,2 These include pressure to publish, lack of time, the desire to get work into print quickly, simultaneously submitting an article to multiple journals in hopes of increasing the odds of acceptance, and carelessness. However, I believe that authors often are unaware that they are committing the act of plagiarism. Many never learned the "rules" for professional writing while in school. The purpose of this article is to discuss plagiarism and to give practical tips on how to avoid it.


Plagiarism is the use of another's words, intended or not, without appropriate citation and referencing. 1-4 It can assume various forms, including an uncited idea, an uncited structure or organizing strategy, uncited information or data from another source, or a verbatim phrase or passage that is not quoted. 3 Even when an author is using words from something he or she wrote previously, appropriate citation is required. Once an article is published, copyright ownership is typically transferred to the publisher; therefore, use of the material without citation or publisher permission is a form of self-plagiarism. While you can refer to other articles you've written, you must properly cite them. Failure to do so is a violation of copyright law. 1


Duplicate publication, or the practice of publishing nearly identical or closely related articles in more than one journal, can also lead to copyright infringement. 5 It can assume several forms, 2 including submitting an article that is identical to or very similar to a report that you published previously, or taking work already published in a journal for one discipline and submitting it to a journal targeted at a different discipline. Because the publisher holds the copyright to the original article, it is illegal to duplicate it elsewhere-in whole or in part-without written permission from the publisher.


Plagiarism is an ethical issue. 2 As Mason 1 notes, "Intellectual honesty requires that credit be given where credit is due."(p7) When this does not occur, potential problems arise for authors, editors, and publishers. While it is obviously easier to write an article similar to one you have read in another journal, it is unacceptable and unethical behavior.



The following are eight helpful hints to avoid plagiarism and obey copyright laws:1-4


1. Use proper citation and referencing. Identify the sources of facts and ideas that are not your own.


2. If you are using someone else's exact words, indicate this with quotation marks and appropriate notation.


3. If you want to include your own words that have been published in another journal for another article, first obtain permission from the publisher, then cite the article correctly.


4. Do not rely on only one or two sources for an article, as this tends to promote duplication of words or ideas.


5. Have one or more colleagues who know the subject matter review your manuscript to see if any parts of it sound similar to anything they've read recently.


6. Only send the manuscript to one journal at a time. If your work is rejected by one journal, you are then free to submit it to another.


7. When writing several articles about a single, complex research study, focus on different aspects of the study and its findings in each. Do not repeat the same findings in each.


8. Know your topic well and stay current with the literature.




Publishing a body of knowledge is essential to the recognition of nursing as a discipline. However, the words we publish must be original, cited, and referenced correctly. While it is easier to use someone else's words, by doing so you can discredit not only yourself, but also your profession.


Share your work with colleagues. It is your professional responsibility to do so. Writing lends credibility to the profession. This should be emphasized in nursing programs, especially at the graduate level. However, in addition to discussing publication, we must also discuss plagiarism with prospective authors and teach them how to avoid it. As a faculty member, I intend to do so from now on.




1. Mason D. Stealing words. AJN. 2002; 102( 7):7. [Context Link]


2. Davidhizar R, Newman Geiger J. Duplicate publication, part 1: Consideration of the issues. Nurse Author Ed. 2002; 12( 3):1-4. [Context Link]


3. Harvard University (1995). Misuse of sources. Retrieved September 2, 2003 from [Context Link]


4. Johnson SH. Duplicate publication, part 2: A case analysis. Nurse Author Ed. 2002; 12( 4):7-9. [Context Link]


5. Rogers LF. Duplicate publication: It's not so much the duplicity as it is the deceit. AJR Am J Roentgenol. 1999; 172( 1):1-2. [Context Link]


Key Word: Plagiarism