Taking someone else's experimental data and passing it for your own is objectively wrong. I would not argue with that. But what about when you are writing a review paper about some topic that doesn't claim to have any new experimental data? Is taking someone else's review on this matter and rephrasing it count as plagiarism? What if you take several similar reviews and stitch them together..?

What if you take someone's review and publish it as your own in another language... having added and removed some parts and after a little bit of restructuring to your liking? It would be rephrased simply due to the fact that it would be translated and I don't see any possibility of the writers of the original paper even noticing it since they don't know my language.

Would you consider that plagiarism?

  • 2
    Just because someone doesn't notice what you have been doing doesn't make you any less wrong - a crime you don't get caught for is still a crime after all.
    – Sursula
    Commented Nov 2, 2023 at 8:16
  • We need to establish if what I am proposing is even wrong in the first place. Commented Nov 2, 2023 at 8:19
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    How would translating someone elses work and passing it of as your own not be plagiarism??
    – Sursula
    Commented Nov 2, 2023 at 8:21
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    The point of a review paper is to collect existing knowlegde for a certain topic (with proper citation) and subsequently interpreting the knowlegde and drawing conclusions and or needs for further research. The original controbution from you ist the mostly the latter part. If that exact thing has been done before by others and you cannot contribute anything else, don't do it any find another area where there is still new discovery to be made.
    – Sursula
    Commented Nov 2, 2023 at 8:29
  • 2
    would you plan on properly citing and referencing each of those papers? Because it kind of feels like you are not. As soon as you don't properly cite and reference, you plagiarize.
    – Sursula
    Commented Nov 2, 2023 at 8:31

1 Answer 1


Plagiarism is the act of taking somebody else's ideas and passing them off as your own. An exact sequence of words is an idea. But the exact sequence of words is not the only idea contained in text. Rephrasing things generally isn't enough to avoid plagerism, as they will contain ideas about: what things need to be explained, what order they are explained in, the best way to explain this things, the best combination of evidence evidence to demonstrate those points. All these things and more are ideas that morally belong to the original writer.

This rephrasing, translating, rearranging, these things are all plagiarism of the original is not acknowledged.

  • I see no reason not to cite the original paper. Of course I would include it in my list of links Commented Nov 2, 2023 at 8:41
  • If you cite the original paper, not just in a list of links, but making it clear to the reader what parts come from the original (One would usually do this by in text citation, but if its the whole thing there are probably more efficient ways) then this is not plagerism. However, if the reader is aware then you are not likely to get that much credit. You'll get some, because translation is hard, and when people cite papers in translation, they cut the original and the translator. Also beware IANAL but there might be copywrite implications for unauthorised translations. Commented Nov 2, 2023 at 9:20
  • How would anyone be able to tell which parts come from the original and which aren't? If I do a good job translating, editing out parts I don't like, and expanding some other parts from other sources (like if I want to expand a certain part, I might go to the provided link and translate directly from there)...if I do all that the result would be almost unrecognisable. How would anyone even go about proving that what I did is plagiarism. It would take a person familiar with both my article and the original in different languages to even suspect it... Commented Nov 2, 2023 at 9:32
  • @IamCleaver the whole idea is for you to only receive the credit for things you came up with. A good time of thumb is that if at any point you feel you've managed to find a way to tricked people into giving you credit for something, then you've plagerised. If you wouldn't be comfortable writing "this is mostly based on a translation of blogs et al" at the top, then the only reason is you are probably doing something wrong. Commented Nov 2, 2023 at 9:34
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    Wrong in the sense that if you were a moral person you would not do that. What more do you need? Commented Nov 2, 2023 at 10:00

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