Plagiarism is the practice of taking someone else’s work or ideas and passing them off as one’s own. What I just did in the first sentence of this post is plagiarism. I took this definition of plagiarism from the Oxford English Dictionary, posted it verbatim and tried to pass it off for my own.
This is also one of the biggest problems academic journals today face as they try to ensure that all the papers they publish are original. Most Editorial Boards, including the ones I have served on, have a zero tolerance policy for plagiarism and have used all available opportunities to stress this point.
The Indian Journal of Dermatology in a bid to do the same published a paper entitled ‘ Development of a guideline to approach plagiarism in Indian scenario’. However, in an interesting and ironical twist, the Journal had to retract the said paper for well, plagiarism. The notice published by the Journal states the following: “The article “Development of a guideline to approach plagiarism in Indian scenario”  is being retracted as the manuscript has been found to be copied from the first round questionnaire of the dissertation entitled ‘Developing a comprehensive guideline for overcoming and preventing plagiarism at the international level based on expert opinion with the Delphi method’ by Dr. Mehdi Mokhtari.”
Retraction Watch, also informs us that this is not the first time the Indian Journal of Dermatology has taken a hard stance against plagiarism and that the author of the said paper, Thorakkal Shamim, had also been a victim of plagiarism in the past.
What this incident makes clear is that academic journals need to be on the top of their game to ensure that plagiarized works do not see the light of the day. More importantly, the academic community and academic institutions, in particular ought to be doing more to instill the fact that plagiarism is completely unacceptable.