Monday, September 3, 2007

CrossRef searches out plagiarists

By Laura Smith 03 Sep 2007

A US-based reference linking service has unveiled a new weapon in the battle against the growing problem of plagiarism in higher education.

CrossRef, in partnership with the digital information tracking firm iParadigms, has launched a pilot scheme called CrossCheck, which works by comparing submitted manuscripts with a database of published articles.

Like existing plagiarism detection systems, CrossCheck will look for overlapping passages of text by using a mathematical expression – or digital ‘fingerprint’ - of each article, which can then be used by editorial staff to work out whether the overlap is unintentional or a case of plagiarism.

But CrossRef, a division of the Publishers International Linking Association counting major publishers including Blackwell, Elsevier and Springer among its members, says its scheme will go further.

While existing systems use only those articles openly available on the web, placing much academic content beyond their reach, CrossRef will be able to search against a wider database by working with some of the world’s biggest publishing firms.

The first stage of the project, now underway, is for iParadigms to begin putting the content of the seven participating publishers - the Association for Computing Machinery, BMJ Publishing Group, Elsevier, the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers, Taylor & Francis, Wiley-Blackwell and the International Union of Crystallography - into a secure database.

Once the database is up and running, which should be by the end of September, the publishers will be able to start checking their content against it. The pilot will run for up to three months, and if all goes well a full service will be developed later this year.

The CrossCheck pilot scheme emerged from last year’s CrossRef annual meeting, when members expressed concern about the increase in serious plagiarism cases and called for the creation of a cross-publisher plagiarism detection service.