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Brainiac

On Second Thought: Plagiarism is harder now, but it still happens

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Last year, Marc Abrahams was doing some fishing in the field of sex research for a book project when he stumbled across an article, from a 2000 issue of the Medical Journal of The Islamic Republic of Iran, which purported to find that pregnant women who “self-stimulate” their breasts can prevent delayed labor. But Abrahams, the editor of the Annals of Improbable Research, found out that the paper had a twin — a virtually identical version ran in 1984 in the American Journal of Obstetrics and Gynecology. Although wholesale theft of articles is harder now than it was in 2000, before the widespread use of software to detect plagiarism, it still happens. The result, however, is the same. The Iranian journal has retracted its version of the paper.

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