iThenticate: Plagiarism and Reliability

For any scientific work, publications are the end-products and their quality and citability are keys to the promotion of scientists. After publication, the manuscript becomes a source for references, post publication review and critique. But, the scientific misconduct by some researchers leads to a rise in ethical issues. Scientific misconduct can be either unintentional or intentional. The former is usually due to inappropriate use of research methodology, while the latter is a complete duplicity and violation of ethical standards.

The term plagiarism originates fromthe Latin word plagium, meaning “kidnapping a man”. It literary means theft, taking material authored by others and presenting as someone else. According to the World Association of Medical Editors (WAME), plagiarism is when 6 consecutive words are copied, 7 to 11 words are overlapping and a set of 30 letters are similar. The International Committee of Medical Journal Editors (ICMJE) gives a detailed explanation of what is not a duplicate publication. Committee on Publication Ethics (COPE) attempted to tackle the problem of plagiarism by recommending cooperation with research institutions and retraction of untrustworthy material.

Besides this, various softwares are also used to check the plagiarism. The most renowned among them is iThenticate. iThenticate is the most commonly used software for detection of plagiarism. The software was launched in 2004, as a result of market demand.The most prominent feature apart from plagiarism detection includes intellectual property protection and document-versus-document(s) analysis. iThenticate also allows for integration with content management systems (CMS) and manuscript tracking systems (MTS).

The process of iThenticate is quite simple and easy. After adding the details of manuscript, the evaluation process starts. Afterwards, a report is formed which shows the percentage of plagiarism in the document. The report also highlights the individual level of percentage in each section of the document using different colors. But, the report does not show the actual percentage of plagiarism in the document because it covers the whole document which includes references and other common sections.

The software also highlights the common subjects which has minimum text matching with others documents. An incident of this nature was reported in 2006 when an international press reported that iThenticate software had found several passages of plagiarism in Ann Coulter’s book, Godless. But the author and the publisher rejected these claims, describing them as irresponsible and stating that minimal text matching of common subjects does not equal plagiarism.

In our scientific papers as well, particularly review articles, we may encounter such situation when we use data from relevant articles of other authors. In such cases, we might get an iThenticate report which shows a high degree of similarity in our article. However, this might not be the case as this might also be due to matching of common subjects. Thus, for the researchers and journal editors, it is of utmost importance to read and interpret the iThenticate report carefully. An article or a piece of writing cannot be judged to be plagiarized based on the similarity index percentage alone.

Sushant Thakur

Dr. Shivali Arora


Knowledge Isotopes is a medical communications company that works like an integrated team to the clients and become their growth partners. Please get back to us for medical writing services and customized medical communication services. Feel free to reach me at for details.