Recently I received a plagiarism report on my accepted manuscript. It is highlighted that total 25% text appeared in other sources though they are cited properly.

When I checked the report, I found ~20% text appears in references only and another ~3% text is due to the use of a long phrase "The tropical cyclone wind speed climatology". This phrase was actually very frequently used in one of my another paper. The rest ~2% text appears in introduction and methods. In methods, I had used some well known mathematical equations and related descriptions e.g. which variable denotes what.

So how to deal with this situation? How can I convince to the editor?

  • It seems the misuse of a blind software. You better discuss with the editor. – Alchimista Jan 18 '18 at 14:00

25% similarity is low. Similarity in references should also be discounted. I suspect it's either a mistake or something you don't have to pay attention to - you mention that your manuscript's already been accepted, and they might just be sending plagiarism reports with the acceptance email as a matter of course.

If the editor also said something like "please correct these plagiarized text", I'd write back saying that the similarities outside of the bibliography are minute, and ask for clarification.

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  • Yes, the editor has asked me to correct those highlighted texts and send back the manuscript as quick as possible. Thank you for your answer.. – Kay Jan 18 '18 at 3:05
  • You are lucky. I got rejection for 25% similarity with my previously published work. – MBK Jan 18 '18 at 3:55
  • I can't understand how to correct the the plagiarism texts those highlight my affiliation. It means my affiliation is similarly written in my other paper... – Kay Jan 18 '18 at 7:11
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    @Kay you shouldn't have to worry about the affiliation - the editor knows as well as that that doesn't count as plagiarism. – Allure Jan 18 '18 at 8:01

As an academic who uses Turnitin in the classes I teach, one of the first things I looked at was what Turnitin itself says about the similarity index:


They specifically tell us : "The similarity score simply makes you aware of any problem areas in a student's paper; you can then use this as a tool as part of a larger process, in order to determine if the match is or is not acceptable." (emphasis mine). The link goes on to talk about references among other issues.

So, the number itself is a lazy way to judge plagiarism. One has to look into the report, find out what shows a similarity and judge by the content.

Frankly, in my field, journals are not adopting any such policy yet, but using the index to blindly decline manuscripts sounds flat out wrong.

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    The worst thing is the plagiarism texts also highlight my affiliation... – Kay Jan 18 '18 at 7:09
  • This goes to what Turnitin says. The similarity index should only be prompt for you to check the report; nothing more! – Burak Ulgut Jan 19 '18 at 7:10

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