Wetenschap - 16 januari 2014

‘Discussion needed on self-plagiarism’

Albert Sikkema

Wageningen researchers should enter into a discussion about self-plagiarism, suggests Johan van Arendonk, dean of the university, in response to the commotion caused by Amsterdam professor Peter Nijkamp.

 ‘Unfortunately, the world of research is being seen in a bad light again because somebody did not stick to the rules,’ says Van Arendonk. ‘That is in keeping with the zeitgeist, with society looking very critically at scientists. We must address it.’

Scientists are not allowed to copy bits of text from previous publications without acknowledging their source, even if it was their own work. ‘The rules on plagiarism are clear, but self-plagiarism is a greyer area,’ says Van Arendonk. ‘If you write two articles about the same experiment, it would seem only sensible to describe the experiment in the same words, so that others recognize that it is about the same experiment. But at what point should you then reference yourself? The best way to discuss this is by looking at examples, so as to create clarity for authors.’ Van Arendonk wants to hold a series of meetings with the research schools in 2014, to discuss academic integrity and plagiarism, including self-plagiarism.