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Scientists as Schrodinger's Cat: Replay to Roig's "The Debate on Self-Plagiarism: Inquisitional Science or High Standards of Scholarship?"/reply to David's "Scientists as Schrödinger's Cat"

Article excerpt

Daniel DAVID*

"Babes-Bolyai" University, Cluj-Napoca, Romania

In which self-plagiarism is concerned, considering the current state in the field, there are only two ways to go. The first way to go is to agree upon three minimal criteria for ethical writing (1. a new publication based on an old one is intended to target a new audience; 2. copyright laws are respected; and 3. it is made clear to the reader and in the author's CVs that the new paper reproduces old ones or parts of them) and to follow them in order to allow for the full expression of the humanistic spirit of science (i.e., disseminating knowledge produced to solve various problems). The second way to go is to elaborate clear rules and guidelines to avoid self-plagiarism, endorsed by all the major actors in the field; from that point on self-plagiarism can be considered misconduct. However, these rules cannot be applied retrospectively, to a time when they did not exist and/or were not lawful. All things considered, the current state of the field is unfair for scientists! As there are no clear lawful regulations regarding self-plagiarism, most scientists are like Schrodinger's cats, neither guilty nor not-guilty! It depends on who, on how, and on if someone is looking...!

I have read Dr. Roig's article carefully. I must say that I still have the feeling that the author is more focused on the form rather than the content of a scientific publication. In my view, the major and ultimate goal of science is to generate knowledge used to solve various theoretical or practical problems (see David, 2007). Thus, the dissemination of scientific knowledge through publications is the ultimate and one of the fundamental components of any scientific endeavor (David, 2007; David, 2008).

In my previous publications on this topic (David, 2007; 2008) I have pointed out that if we implement three minimal criteria, which Dr. Roig seems to agree with in his article, there is no need for other inquisitional, excessively detailed procedures (sic!), to avoid the so called self-plagiarism (i.e., stealing ideas from oneself). These three minimal criteria are as follows (David, 2007; 2008): (1) the new publication based on an old one is intended to target a new audience; (2) copyright laws are respected: (3) it is made clear to the reader and in the author's CVs that the new paper reproduces old ones or parts of old ones (and to what extent).

In his article, Dr. Roig says that he basically agrees with these criteria. However, when discussed in his paper, it becomes clear that they are not enough, and that we need detailed specifications on how to re-write our own work and ideas, reminding of inquisitional science (Chapman, 2007; David, 2007; 2008) etc. We analyze Dr. Roig's arguments as follows.

Concerning the first criterion, Dr. Roig says that in the age of the internet there is no need to target new audiences by publishing the same material in more than one Journal. We strongly disagree, as least from the perspective of someone coming from an Eastern European country, part of the former communist block. First of all, I would like to remind the readers that in less developed countries, and even in the newly emerging Eastern European democratic countries, there is no full access to the internet, or if there is access, people still cannot afford to pay the fees required for the full version of articles. Thus, some Journals are still on a market of their own, without yet being players on the global market of science. Second, at least in less developed countries, many Journals are not available online, and therefore articles they publish are not accessible via the internet! Therefore, the re-publication of an article in a different Journal, to target a new audience, is still legitimate. Moreover, during the communist period, this was a straightforward state policy, scientists being encouraged to publish some of their best papers both in the country and abroad! …