Plagiarism, a specific subset of academic dishonesty, is the representation of another person’s work, words, thoughts, or ideas, as one’s own. Plagiarism includes, but is not limited to, copying material and using ideas from an article, book, unpublished paper, or the Internet without proper documentation of references or without properly enclosing quoted material in quotation marks. Plagiarism also includes sentences that follow an original source too closely, often created by simply substituting synonyms for another person’s words.
“Plagiarism is copying another person’s text or ideas and passing the copied material as your own work. Thus, authors should both delineate (i.e., separate and identify) the copied text from your text and give credit to (i.e., cite the source) the source of the copied text to avoid accusations of plagiarism. Plagiarism is considered fraud and has potentially harsh consequences including loss of job, loss of reputation, and the assignation of reduced or failing grade in a course.
This definition of plagiarism applies for copied text and ideas (Plagiarism: What It Is and How to Avoid It”, Peter Cobbett, PhD, August 2016):
(i) regardless of the source of the copied text or idea;
(ii) regardless of whether the author(s) of the text or idea which you have copied actually copied that text or idea from another source;
(iii) regardless of whether or not the authorship of the text or idea which you copy is known;
(iv) regardless of the nature of your text (journal paper/article, webpage, book chapter, paper submitted for college course, etc) into which you copy the text or idea;
(v) regardless of whether or not the author of the source of the copied material gives permission for the material to be copied; and
(vi) regardless of whether you are or are not the author of the source of the copied text or idea (self plagiarism).
This definition also applies for figures and figure legends and for tables and table legends which you copy into your text.”
Plagiarism can be said to have clearly occurred when large chunks of text have been cut-and-pasted. Such manuscripts would not be considered for publication in the journal. But minor plagiarism without dishonest intent is relatively frequent, for example, when an author reuses parts of an introduction from an earlier paper. The editors judge any case of which they become aware (either by their own knowledge of and reading about the literature, or when alerted by referees) on its own merits.